Two people constitute a conversation, any more and it’s a meeting.
This distinction isn’t trivial. When a third person enters the fray, the nature of the interaction changes.
Might the meeting you have scheduled be more effective as a series of conversations?
It might. That’s because conversations are:
- Easier to schedule. More attendees make timing less flexible and some attendees are bound to get shafted with an inconvient time for them. Conversations make it more likely you’ll find a time that’s convenient for both people.
- Easier to decline. Meeting invitations feel like you’ve been subpoenaed to court…your presence is mandatory. Conversations feel more informal. It’s more socially acceptable to decline.
- Easier to exit. Leaving a meeting early can be socially akward. Even when the meeting runs over time, it can feel rude or inappropriate to stand up and exit in front of the other attendees. All it takes to end a conversation is a throat clear and the mention of another appointment.
- More personal. In a conversation your energy and attention is focused on just one person. This undivided attention can lead to interactions that are more candid, direct, and meaningful.
- Less political. Intelligent individuals can act like idiots in groups. The presence of an audience makes diversions, grandstanding, and blame more likely. Their tends to be less of those behaviors in conversations. I didn’t say none, I said less.
- Not weapons of mass interruptions.
- Less influenced by groupthink. In a meeting, people model their opinions off what the others in the meeting say (especially superiors). If you want the most genuine and effective feedback from people, one on one is best.
Conversations can take more work. They may not be the most convenient route (especially for the initiator), but if your primary goal is convenience…
maybe you need to rethink your priorities.