Meeting for dinner and other reasons

Last night I turned to my husband and uttered those magic words he’s heard so many times: “The family dinner is highly overrated.”

For years, various experts have instructed us about the importance of coming together at meal times to share our lives and our days with our children. I wonder, which was the pearl of wisdom last night? Was it my daughter telling me the collared greens looked like seaweed? My oldest son singing the inappropriate lyrics from a pop song? My daughter threatening him with bodily harm if he didn’t stop singing?

Or perhaps the treasured memory will be watching my youngest son leave a trail of beef stew across the table. Followed by a trail of milk. Followed by a trail of honey.

Often, when people come together the dynamic takes a turn for the worse. I’ve sat through thousands of routine meetings, and have to say that like many a family dinner the content was of limited value. You can’t save every meeting from lapsing into bickering, boredom, or blathering but at a minimum you should try to provide the basics for a good meeting:

  • Have the right people in the room.
  • Have an agenda that contains a timeline. Stick to it.
  • Have a clear objective and make sure everyone knows what it is.
  • Conclude when you said you were going to conclude.
  • Issue minutes or notes to get agreement from those who attended and fill in those who didn’t.
  • If there is follow up to be done, do it.

Sounds pretty fundamental, doesn’t it? But I know from my night-after-night experiences at dinner that you can’t guarantee a positive outcome. Of course, the food helps. As long as it’s not seaweed.

How do you conduct an effective meeting – or family dinner? Send your stories to – if I use them, I’ll feature your business.

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