Monday, October 19, 2015

Alexandra Petri And The No Good, Very Bad Meetings

You may have seen Alexandra Petri's Washington Post essay, "Famous quotes, the way a woman would have to say them during a meeting". A number of female friends circulated it in social media (Facebook, mostly); what seems to have grabbed them is the shared experience of abasement, i.e. the words "I'm sorry" appear frequently, and as well, denigrating one's own contributions. While I don't deny that experience (and see "The Confidence Gap" for a likely explanation), having sat through a number of meetings myself with women, this is not my recollection of their dynamics. Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist has a good rejoinder to all this, in three parts, the strongest being:
Meetings are awful not because men are sexist or women can’t form coherent thoughts but because meetings are awful! Nobody likes them. People have trouble getting along in groups, and communication is difficult.
Well, yes, this. The shilly-shallying language of Petri's essay ("I’m sorry, I just had this idea — it’s probably crazy, but — look, just as long as we’re throwing things out here — I had sort of an idea or vision about maybe the future?") is just damned annoying; Hemingway reminds us there are women who can utter a coherent sentence without backing up into apologetics.

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