The Top Meeting Pet Peeves that Plague Organizations – Tip #3


Pet Peeve #3: People Arriving Late to the Meeting

The following is the third meeting pet peeve in a weekly series of 5.

How many meetings have you arrived to on time, only to have the meeting start late as everyone waits for others to show up? Even worse, if the meeting does start on time, it restarts 10 minutes later when a few people straggle in. Rather than continue with the meeting, the facilitator attempts to bring the late comers up to speed by rehashing everything that was just covered.

But why penalize the people who arrived on time? A better approach is to close the door when the meeting starts and put a note on the door that says, “Meeting in Progress.” Those who arrive late will know to sneak in as inconspicuously as possible…and, hopefully, they won’t make the same mistake next time. Additionally, unless the late person is the boss, don’t restart the meeting later. When meeting start times are enforced and honored, people will make the effort to be on time.

Are You Executive Level Material? Tip #8

The following is the 8th in a series of 10 tips to help you become more promotable in your job.

8. Look professional.

Tattoos and piercings are popular these days, and if you want one, by all means get one. However, when you’re at work, keep the tattoo under your clothing as much as possible and remove visible piercings from your face or tongue. Today, it’s extremely rare to see executives with visible tattoos and piercings. Twenty years from now, it may be more common and acceptable to see tattoos and piercings in the executive suite, but for now, keep them hidden at work if you work in a corporate setting.

Accused of Not Listening

Dear Jean,

I have been accused of not listening.  My employees, my husband and my children all think I don’t listen to them.  Granted, I’m pretty intense most of the time, and it is true that once in awhile I don’t completely understand what they’ve said.  I’m not even sure I want to do a great deal more listening.  I have made it this far to “senior management,” so why do I have to change?


You don’t have to change, unless you want a smoother, less complicated life and a long-term career.  Because you have the courage to write, I feel that you are ready to make some positive changes in your listening style (I didn’t say changes in your personality).

Unless you make it a priority to hear and fully understand people, you won’t be able to do it.  Make sure that you are in the frame of mind to listen.  If you are faking it, your nonverbal communication will give you away.  If you respond so quickly that you step on their last word, you will not have processed the whole meaning of what they have said.

To make sure they know you heard them, count to three before you respond.  Listen for the facts and the body language associated with the message, then paraphrase what they just told you to confirm that you understand what they are thinking, feeling and saying.

No Compromise on Religious Traditions

Dear Jean,

Here comes another religious holiday (not my religion), and all the little kiddies will be hunting eggs at my boss’s ranch.  If I refuse to take my child to the big shindig, I’m a spoilsport.  If I take her, I’m a hypocrite.  Please help me, Jean.  If you can come up with some compromise, I’ll be eternally grateful.


Based on the information you gave me, I don’t see any need for a compromise.  The party conflicts with your religious traditions, and that’s that!  You can explain that to your daughter in words she can understand.  Remind her of all the fun activities that coincide with her own traditions as a way to soften her charge that you’re a spoilsport.

I don’t see any reason that you should be embarrassed about not taking your child to the party.  Just send a nice handwritten note to your boss.  Something like this would work well:

Dear Boss,

Thank you for your kind invitation to the Easter egg hunt at your ranch.  Because the party conflicts with our family’s religious beliefs, we must decline.  We appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness.


Should I Invite Her?

Dear Jean,

My administrative assistant is a Jehovah’s Witness.  I am told she is not allowed by her religion to celebrate holidays or birthdays.  Should I invite her to attend birthday parties of her co-workers?


It is nice manners to give her the dignity of choice.  Mostly likely, she will graciously decline.  Because you don’t fully understand her religious loyalties, ask.  She will be delighted to tell you anything you want to know.  Please don’t assume.  You may end up not inviting her to a baby shower she really wanted to attend.

I learned about the traditions of Jehovah’s Witnesses firsthand from a most delightful person, a previous receptionist of mine.  It was I who almost didn’t have a baby shower for her.  Somehow I got the idea that Jehovah’s Witnesses just said “no” to parties of any kind.  Boy, was I wrong!  A good rule of thumb is, “When in doubt, ask.”  Halloween parties are a definite “no” and anniversaries are a definite “yes.”

Bad Breath Boss

Dear Jean,

My boss has really bad breath.  When he speaks to me, I almost gag.  What can I do to let him know of his problem?  He is a very defensive person.


I know only two options:  Get up your courage and tell him, or stay two arms’ lengths away.

I have a client who was the person with the bad breath.  His secretary kept a bunch of mints in her desk.  As he would be walking out of the office for a meeting, she would say, “Wait, here are a couple of mints.”  It wasn’t too long before he asked her if he had a breath problem.  She told him the truth, and he was thankful to hear it.  She probably saved him a couple of teeth too.  Her courage helped her boss detect early stages of gum disease.

Sympathy Card for a Pet

Dear Jean,

My employer has been divorced for several years and up until last week, he had a German shepherd roommate named Pal. Pal died last Tuesday and my boss is devastated. My inclination is to send my boss a sympathy card. It seems like a really sappy thing to do, but I would be in mourning if something happened to my cat. If you were me, would you send a sympathy card?


A pet sympathy card or a handwritten note would be fine. Many people are as attached to their pets as they are to their family members – in come cases, more so. If you are like me, this is a very difficult type of note to write.

It’s a nice gesture to write a few sentences as you would if you were sending a traditional sympathy card. Say something like this: “I was sorry to hear that Pal died. I know he was a good friend and an important part of your life. Just want you to know that I am thinking about you and your loss.” If you had any dealings with Pal, you saw him fetch a ball, etc., you might want to tell about it in a sentence or two.

Your note may be the only acknowledge of loss he receives. I’ll bet he will admire you for your gesture.

Thanking the Boss’s Mom

Dear Jean,

Our boss lives with his mother and this sweet old lady has been baking us “holiday goodies” for the office.  We love to nibble her “offerings” when we go to the break room.  Should we send the boss’s mother something?


Of course.  A flowering plant and a thank-you note would be an ideal gift.  It would also be nice to remember her for these kind gestures during the holiday season, and if practical, on her birthday.  Aside from pleasing her, it will please your boss too – and you can’t go wrong with pleasing your boss.

They Needle Me to Drink

Dear Jean,

I’m a lawyer and I work with a team of high-strung, deadline-oriented lawyers.  Occasionally, after a long, intense day, we go out together for a drink.  Most of them drink quite a bit.  I don’t drink at all, but I enjoy being with the group.  With holiday parties coming up, I need to know how to keep them from needling me to drink!


Just say, “I don’t drink, thanks.”  The next time they needle you to drink, just say, “I don’t drink.”  The next time — repeat it again…..

Thank-you for a Thank-you

Dear Jean,

I am one of those people who might be called a workaholic.  I’m the type who gets to work early and stays late.  I love what I do.  No challenge is too great.  Occasionally, I’m rewarded for my “above and beyond the call of duty” work and receive dinner for two or symphony tickets.  Should I write a thank-you note for a thank-you gift?


I’m so glad you asked that question.  I’m wondering when you last received a personal thank-you note.  How did you feel?  Great, I’ll bet.  Pass it on!  I strongly believe that everyone wants to feel important – the way you felt when your boss handed you the tickets.  Because thank-you notes are never in bad taste, I hope you’ll write them often!

In this high-tech society, the personal touch has sadly given way to e-mail, voice mail, express mail, and the more-than-ever-present telephone.  That’s really too bad, because there’s something deeply touching about a personal, handwritten thank-you note.  In many cases, they are more impressive than a gift.  Anyone can buy a gift.

Recently, I received a thank-you letter from a woman I had helped to find a job many years ago.  I want to stress the word helped because in fact, I did not find her the employment she desired.  I had not had any contact with her since that time.  She lives in Dallas and is in an excellent upper-management job.

In her letter, she thanked me for the personal interest I had in her and told me that my believing in her had made a difference in her life.  The letter blew me away.

When was the last time you received a handwritten thank-you note?  What did you do with it?  Did you save it?

I save all the thank-you notes and special cards I receive during the year.  I put them in a file folder and label the file by the year.  Whenever I feel gloomy or when I want to spend a rainy afternoon alone, I go through my old cards and letters.  I have long forgotten about most of the gifts I have received in the last few years, but I still have ALL the letters and cards.

When the mail comes to my office, I speedily run through all the items hoping to find a small envelope with handwriting on it.  I open those first.  The busier I perceive the senders to be, the more impressed I am to receive cards from them.

Thank-you notes are written for all kinds of reasons.  Brian Tracy, a popular public speaker and business consultant says, “You will double your income in one year if you will write 25 thank-yous a week.”  Can you find 25 things to be grateful for every week?

One of the best reasons I have heard for writing thank-yous and notes of congratulations is that it makes the other person feel important.  Who doesn’t like to feel important?  Another very good reason to take pen in hand is that it’s just nice manners.

People continuously ask me, “What should I thank people for?”  I say, “Everything!”