While the modern workplace is being reshaped to accommodate people working from home, it’s also an opportune time to re-think specific phrases we commonly use in meetings.


Even when we feel our lives are controlled by COVID-19, we still can control our speech. So leadership specialist Rae Ringel 'did a bit of 'crowdsourcing' to gauge which meeting phrases annoyed people the most. In this article, he makes the following points:

  • 'I'm going to give you 10 minutes of your life back'. This phrase, ís often used when a meeting ends earlier than scheduled, sends the message that the meeting has 'taken' from team members rather than contributed to the team's accomplishments.

  • 'We're going to wait five minutes for everyone to join'. This practice dishonours those who joined on time and does nothing to establish a culture of punctuality.

  • 'You're on mute'. This online meeting phrase has become grating and makes the person on the receiving end of the comment feel silly. Ringel suggests the alternative: 'If you're speaking, I can't hear you.'

  • 'We're building the plane while flying it'. If that's the case, be careful—it could crash. Instead, identify what has been done and what you're still working on.

  • 'Let's take this offline. Instead of sounding as though you're dismissing someone, try: 'That's an important topic that's beyond the scope of this meeting. I'll email you when we wrap up.'

So, the next time you find yourself tempted to offer up one of these phrases, keep in mind the implications that may inadvertently come from using the phrase. For instance, instead of giving your teammates a few 'minutes of their life back', consider saying: 'Because everyone was so productive, we're done 10 minutes early.' Rephrasing has the power to make a big difference.


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