Every meeting has an asshole. Is it you?

Every meeting has an asshole.

We were crammed into a cozy library at a local all-boys school. About thirty English teachers from around the district, gathered to participate in yet another professional development day of meetings. Volun-told (vs. volunteered).

After a hectic morning and a room switch, our apologetic and smiling speaker began her presentation. Minutes later — before our speaker really had a chance to jump in — a slender impatient finger rose.

“So how is this different from the materials in our textbook,” she asked.

It was one of many so-called “tough” questions the woman attempted to hurl at our speaker. For an all-day training, 9 a.m. is much too early in the workshop to be critical. Our speaker did her best to fend off the instant negativity but the meeting had already gone downhill. You know it’s bad when people in the audience begin standing up for the speaker.

Half an hour later… we finally got started.

Perhaps other professions experience this too: the asshole at meetings. They bother me, set me on an instant edge. Professional development or staff development or an in-service day (whatever you’d like to call it) is not always fun. In fact, I’ve been to many conferences or meetings that feel like an utter waste of time.

If I had to guess, I’d say this is much to the detriment of a good speaker or presenter. It’s not fair, frankly. Some of them never have a chance.

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