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Not A Good Time For A Joke

March 30, 2018

I like to make people laugh. I spent hours and hours on the phone with people. And while humor is difficult to do on a conference call, I will typically try to keep the conversation light.

Today, was not a call for doing so. I didn’t try out any funny one-liners, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about the role of humor in the workplace.

I was part of a meeting today that spanned four states, and three time zones. My boss was on it; all his direct reports, his boss, his boss’ boss, and several people from other departments.

We have a big client presentation coming up and this was our internal meeting to prepare for it. I’m the IT guy. I have one slide in a deck of 30. I’m there mostly to speak to my one slide and answer any questions about IT or outages.

There were none of those questions. And we didn’t get to my slide. We spent a lot of time going over statistical reports and metrics. They weren’t my metrics, so I didn’t need to be active in the conversation.

However, the discussion became tense at times. We are all on the same team and we are all working toward the same goal. But, there are areas that we can improve. Time was spent going over them.

I very much care about the metrics since they are a key indicator of how well we are delivering on the partnership with our client. But, not having an active role, I wasn’t expected to speak up.

If you’ve read this blog for very long at all, you know that I have pretty severe ADHD. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to have a five minute conversation and have simultaneously held a half dozen side conversations in my head.

If I don’t interupt you while you’re speaking, realize it’s not because I haven’t figured out what you are about to say, and what I will say in response and what Bob might have said as well. It’s simply that I’ve had to train myself to SHUT UP NOW.

Oh, I had great ideas today. They didn’t necessarily relate to the meeting, because I didn’t compile the data, so much of it was a mystery to me. But, I had great, great ideas and things to say that would have added to the meeting.

I said none of them.

I made one comment late in the meeting about a technical issue from last quarter.

Yes, Rodney, but that’s no longer relevant since we’ve had a full quarter to recover.

Okay, back to SHUTTING UP.

When I’m running the meeting, I can control the flow of the conversation. I can decide to drop in a joke or kid one of my team mates.

When, your boss’ boss’ boss is running the call? That’s a great time to practice not adding on or introducing a little levity. Just keep your mouth shut.

I didn’t used to be this smart.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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