In my role as an educator (teacher, man. You’re a teacher) a surprisingly large amount of my time is taken up by meetings. I understand that sometimes a meeting is necessary to disseminate some edict from on high or to make sure that everything is as it should be. Some meetings, however, feel utterly unnecessary. This was never more the case as to when I worked in the corporate world.
We had meetings about meetings. We had meetings to prepare for meetings. We had team meetings. One to one meetings. Support meetings. Meetings about individual clients and then meetings with those clients. As an individual I hated, deplored, despised and try my best to avoid meetings. Most of the information spewed out at you in a meeting could be succinctly said in an email. Send the email and save everyone the time.
However, are these feelings about meetings because of the way my mind works or is it because I am a terrible employee? Or could it even be a mixture of both?
In the summer between finishing my teacher training and starting at my first school, I needed work. Bills must be paid, and food needs to be purchased. As apparently a family can’t live on me reading alone. Which, to be fair, is bullshit. Anyway, I was given a temping job and a bin collection company. To say I didn’t care about the work would be a massive understatement. The work was dull, most of the people worse and the commute was two trains and a thirty-minute walk. So, once I had a printout in front of me and some person, who possibly had Bell’s Palsy, read out a list of facts and figures about things that I found impossible to care about. Dear reader, eventually, I was let go. Because I had no interest in the job I would just switch off and hope that everything would eventually stop. I could back to my desk and then spend the time ignoring the inbox.
In other jobs which I should have been enthused about I found meetings intolerable. Handouts and minutes that no one would ever read again. Would a non-autistic person fake enthusiasm and make notes that they would reflect on later. Probably, probably not. My wife has said because she is being paid to be in that meeting then she will pay attention and engage with whatever it is being discussed.
Thirdly, an issue is my short-term memory. It is common with people who live with either depression or autism to have a poor short-term memory. Long term, decent. Short-term, poor. I would be given tasks and because I wasn’t paying massive amounts of attention, I would miss it or ask for it to be emailed to me. Thus, rendering the whole meeting essentially unnecessary.
Mainly, the whole point of the meetings seems illogical to me. Why have a specific point of time where a group of people must gather around to listen to another person drone on and on. No one other than the manager who gets to stretch their vocal cords wants to be there. So, why do it? Why not just send the sodding email. After the pandemic more and more meetings went online which meant they became unavoidable. Like death, taxes and Ed Sheeran. A benefit is you can turn your camera off and do something else. Not only that I do not like talking in group chats or in groups and meetings. Mainly, as I don’t want to say anything stupid or offensive and don’t really want to draw attention to myself. Online meetings add the horror of seeing yourself on camera as other people are talking. Sure, you can minimise your camera, but you need to keep it on so that you can check what other people can see and if you start reading or sleeping or picking your ears then you’re in for a bad time.
I think the main reason people with autism, or that the very least this person with autism finds meetings hard is the expectation of being social. Being surrounded by people and maybe being asked a question. The horror. That and faking interest in numbers that do not mean anything other than whether my boss’s boss will get a bonus.
As ever, I try and keep up with this as and when the ideas or mood strikes me but if you have anything you would like me to discuss then leave a comment and let me know.