We’re just about to end the meeting, but I can’t help myself. I have to ask questions that have nothing to do with what we’ve been talking about just to hear myself talk. How I love the sound of my voice. You’ve all had your coffee right? So I can go on for hours. I must ask meaningless questions and keep you all here because I need my audience!
Take one for the team! It doesn’t matter when you speak up, as long as you do:
- In the moment, tell the group you have another meeting. Get yourself out of there. Interrupt the flow — immediately! You know to expect the endless pointless questioning, so stop it! Watch how many of your co-workers join you out the door! Only listen if you want to waste time, have a good laugh or share something fun with your co-workers as you commiserate about it later.
- Plan ahead. Warn the person running the meeting so that he/she knows to expect The Pontificator and can stop it.
I once worked for a company where everyone — yes everyone — was so afraid to make a decision, that we spent months and months having the same discussions. Every project would drag on for so long that six months into it, we started repeating points made during the first month. I started with frustration, quickly moved onto anger and finally (thank God) I was exhausted. I knew I had to update my resume and start networking. When you are faced with a situation without momentum, progress or accomplishment, it quickly becomes very difficult to be motivated to come to work.
Here are two possible scenarios:
- Culture. If indecision is the company culture and you don’t enjoy having the same endless conversation, then you need to get out. No magical solution here. However, you should stay put if your goal is to coast through your cube life. This is the ideal “safe” environment because no one can ever be wrong or blamed.
- Individuals. If you’re dealing with an individual who is incapable of making a decision and standing his/her ground, simply go somewhere else or make your own decision. Empower yourself. You don’t always need to consult someone else; take the initiative, make a move and move on. If it is the wrong approach, someone with the applicable knowledge will eventually see it and bring it to your attention (hopefully in a nice way!). But have the confidence in yourself to make that initial move.