A Simple Way to Re-Energize Any Meeting
When all hope is lost: hope grenade
The hour-long meeting was becoming a slog. Forty-five minutes of doubt and negative thinking. FUD City. Population 7.
And then something magical happened. Someone who’d been silent the entire meeting said, if memory serves, “Maybe no one wants to hear this, and I’m being an annoying optimist, but I love this work. I believe in it. I think it can be great.”
It instantly transformed the energy of the meeting. And judging from the smiles and suddenly relaxed shoulders of the other participants, it transformed the individual psyches of everyone involved.
It was a course correction. It was a hope grenade.
As sturdy as the word “meeting” sounds, meetings themselves are highly mutable. They can easily be derailed by a single comment. Until that day, my definition of a “meeting grenade” was any time someone says something negative or irrelevant or tiresome that disrupts the sweet, sweet flow of a fruitful discussion. There’s a difference between a probing, fundamental question, which I think should always be welcome, and an incendiary, energy-sucking flow blocker.
For example: Let’s say the kick-off meeting for a new project is flowing nicely and then, five minutes before the meeting is scheduled to end, someone says the equivalent of, “Hear me out: What if this company didn’t exist? How would we kick off this project then?”
[sound of power to a stadium being shut off]
That’s an absurdist example, but I think you get my point. I’ve heard lots of these grenades lobbed in meetings (I have unintentionally lobbed a few myself), and every one of them makes me want to crawl into a supply closet and eat a box of highlighters.
But the hope grenade made me want to hug people. I’d never seen a meeting grenade used for… good! To help! To get things back on track!
It was a gloriously concussive reset.
We all have this weapon at our disposal, and at certain moments in our careers, we should strategically use it.
Because it’s about more than the meeting.
I still carry some of the energy of that moment with me. An awareness that ultimately I want this to work, I like my job, and I believe in what we’re doing. That particular day, I just needed someone to take a risk, throw a hope grenade, and remind me.