Cut the crap. Your perpetual smile and feigned enthusiasm don’t fool me.

I know you'd rather watch an infinite loop of a sleep-inducing movie like Dances With Wolves than drag yourself into one more business meeting.

Between the anxiety generated by the cell phone bans (Who might have called? What did I miss? OMG … what celebrity is naked today?) and the frustration of listening — again — to That Guy Who Never Shuts Up, these meetings totally ruin your day.

Meeting Overload

Why are there so many — and what are they all about?

Sure you can create a two-page agenda and toss around words like essential and important and mandatory, but the bottom line to all of these collaborative experiences is usually … nothing.

Few great things are ever born from the mindless chatter that makes up most meetings.

As Harvard Business Review so accurately concluded — in 1976, for Pete's sake:

"A great many important matters are quite satisfactorily conducted by a single individual who consults nobody. A great many more are resolved by a letter, a memo, a phone call, or a simple conversation between two people. Sometimes five minutes spent with six people separately is more effective and productive than a half-hour meeting with them all together."

We hear you. And unlike that therapist you've been paying $200 an hour to unsuccessfully deal with the toll these meeting are taking on your soul, we understand.

Meetings suck. Here's how to survive.

Meeting Survival Cheat Sheet

  1. The day before your next meeting, call your boss and tell him or her what you really think about everything — his or her management style, competency and personality. Heck, even offer some comments on hair, clothing, personal hygiene and, if applicable, makeup. Be as specific as possible — and resist the urge to keep any topic off the table. Do this with passion, vigor and total honesty. Odds are you will very quickly be told you don't even have to attend the damn meeting.
  2. Hydrate liberally, ideally with several glasses of white wine. It's a 10 am meeting? Throw a little orange juice in there. Now if you work from home or a park bench or some other random place you pretend is your office, this is pretty easy. But if you have to meet face-to-face, here's what to do: Buy a nice big to-go cup, fill it with your white wine and add a few drops of green food coloring. Shake. Now label the cup something disgusting, like Kale Juice. No one in his right mind will ask for a sample.
  3. Wear a "Vote for Trump" t-shirt. The message will be so polarizing that no one in the room will dare ask for your opinion on anything, much less take it if you offer it.
  4. Start the meeting by proclaiming you have a great cost-saving idea: "Let's stop giving out free Kind snack bars and Snapple and La Croix pamplemousse water. Let's sell the (fill in the blank … foosball table, bean bags, Tribbles, Nerf balls)." While your boss may be mildly impressed at your economy, your co-workers will be so annoyed that they will ignore you for the rest of the meeting.
  5. If you're working remotely, queue up a YouTube video of your favorite, geographically appropriate storm noises. Let it play softly in the background when the meeting starts, then gradually increase the volume. When it gets really wicked, yell, "Gotta go!" and hang up.
  6. Cough incessantly. It's not that hard to fake one, and few people can tell a pretend cough from a real one. When asked about it, soberly say you are still waiting for your test results from the doctor. At this point, there is a good chance someone will suggest you leave.
  7. Improve your vocabulary. Learn a lot of big, pretentious words and use them liberally whenever you are asked to speak. Most people will simply nod in agreement because they won't want to seem stupid and the moderator will quickly move to the next question — and never ask for your opinion again.
  8. You usually can't bring your phone or tablet. But who will yell if you bring a stylized Moleskin-like notebook and beautiful pen? You can claim you're taking meeting notes even as you write grocery lists, jot a letter to your grandma or compose a salient response to the lousy rating you're likely to get at your next performance review.
  9. Come up with an annoying catch phrase and say it every time someone says something. You can use something obsequious, like "Great idea!" or "Love that" or really grate on some nerves with something like, "Alriiiiiiiiiiight!
  10. Bring a bag of chips to the meeting. Rustle the bag and chew loudly. Blame your need to eat them on a medical condition. It should take only a few minutes for someone to excuse you from the meeting.
  11. Better yet – bring something savory and odiferous — like a tuna sandwich or kimchi. That'll keep the meeting from dragging on and on.
  12. Dig out your common sense and sense of humor. Realize that anyone who tells you to insult your boss, offend your colleagues and act like a boor is not exactly giving you actionable advice. So what's the deal? ....  She's simply saying, "April Fools!"

Title image by Asa Smith Aarons