Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Declassified: Just Keep Talking

Good morning, Ruineers!

Today we're talking about talking, and talking about talking about talking. And as always, today's talking points about talking about talking come from the OSS Simple Sabotage Field Manual.

Now we're talkin'!

Today's Tip: Just Keep Talking

Any good time-waster loves a good meeting, particularly when there's important work to be done. But these wonderful get-togethers are often marred by the presence of people who want to make decisions.

Yes, it's a sad fact that in every meeting, there's going to be one or two good-idea nogoodniks. These slick customers pretend to sit quietly and stay out of your way at first, but they're really coiled snakes, listening to peoples' complaints and formulating plans to fix problems. Jeepers!

By using the following tools, you can frustrate these quiet menaces and tangle up every office interaction, every time. It's hard to keep a good man down, but with these strategies, you can prevent them from getting anything done.

Time is money, and it's up to you to use up as much of both as possible. Every moment that your jaw isn't flapping is time that a good idea may rear its ugly head. Tell stories from your personal life to illustrate "points," whether or not the point is relevant. Voice your concerns about how people not present might feel about the situation. List, at length, every possible option and then why none of them will work.

If someone turns the discussion back on topic, bring up unrelated issues. If the group starts making headway on that new topic, get them "back on track" by switching back to the original topic. By changing the topic as frequently as possible and dragging in as many issues as possible, you'll replace forward progress with horizontal complaining.

Once a meeting is finished, make sure to hunt down the person in charge of writing the minutes. Pick out a sentence (picking at random is just fine) and argue over the precise wording. I'm sure you'll have a fine reason why "decided" is better than "chose"!

Speaking of minutes, you might think at first that they're a dangerous enemy - after all, they provide a record of what was decided.

First of all, you're the schmuck who let something get decided! Don't worry though, even the most vigilant meeting manager sometimes lets a decision slip through. Your goody-two-shoes boss might demand a decision be made, and you may have to oblige him. It's a sad fact of life that some problems require action - action committees, that is!

Start an action committee and pack this "small group" with as many people as possible, whether or not they care about the situation. Remember, nothing of importance ever got decided by a group of more than five people. After all, you're "just being reasonable" and "want to have all the facts" rather than "making a hasty decision."

Second, even if a stray decision gets through, minutes are the perfect tool to roll the clock back. Simply keep a copy of the minutes and bring up any issue that got decided all over again in the next meeting. The frustration of backwards movement is even worse than simply staying in place - it's a great way to keep the organization (and your coworkers) in their place.

There's no situation that can't be made worse with more talking, from preventing a decision, to dragging out the decision-making process, to reversing old decisions. Remember - the work can't start happening until the mouths stop flappening.

That's all for today, Ruineers! It's time to go back to finding ways to avoid work on your own now.

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