How to Avoid Being Invited to Meetings

The easiest way to avoid meetings is to never be invited in the first place. It may take time to stop being invited to meetings, but if you try out a few of these tricks, you might see those meeting invites dry right up.

1. Clean out your work bag during the meeting

The only thing that signifies boredom more than looking at your nails is cleaning out your work bag in front of colleagues. Once you hear a colleague say, ‘That’s just my opinion,’ it’s time to drop your bag on the table and start organizing the receipts, use your compact to check for spinach in your teeth, and clear out the displaced mints and gum swimming at the bottom. Don’t stop finding things in your bag to organize until the presenter wraps up.

2. Tap your fingers on the table

When the weekly Monday 9am meeting drags to slide 37, place your hand on the table and let those unmanicured nails clackity-clack-clack. This sends a clear signal to your coworkers that your time is important and they’ll think twice about inviting you to the next one. It’s also a good impetus for getting rid of that nail-biting habit.

3. Stand up and stretch

During your next meeting, stand up and stretch. And don’t stop. Or start running in place. Don’t go to the corner to do this — just stand next to the table and ignore the colleagues whose view you’re blocking — and run your heart out. High knees are ok too.

4. Leave after 5 minutes to go to the bathroom and don’t come back until the meeting is just about done

Invited to Meetings

As you walk back in, avoid eye contact and resist the urge to apologize or blame it on lunch. Be brave and let everyone come to the real conclusion: you just didn’t want to be there.

5. Practice mansplaining

When a colleague asks if anyone has questions on the product update, launch into a recap of what the product is and where the team’s at. Give it your best and if someone tries to interrupt, just raise your voice.

6. Painstakingly write out a list of 20 questions

Do this for all meetings, including one-on-ones with your boss or quick chats with prospective clients. When someone goes over the action items or asks ‘Any questions?’ jump right in. Bonus points if you begin by asking a question that was already asked earlier in the meeting. Or ask open-ended questions like ‘Where do we go from here?’ and just sit and stare.

7. Copy your peer’s boss in all email correspondence

This goes for when you’re calling a meeting brainstorm, when you’re inviting your peer for lunch, when you’re sending the ‘omg did you hear that convo??’ email or slack message. Definitely don’t forget to invite their boss for all meetings and then delegate all tasks to your peer. They’ll love you for it.

8. Take off your shoes

We all want to be comfortable at work, and nothing says comfort like showing off your paws to colleagues. This is best done discreetly, and it ensures a big surprise. You could even put your feet up on the table. After all, legs above the heart lowers the heartbeat. If anyone makes a comment, ask your boss if employee wellness is important to them.

9. Crack open the fishball noodles just as the Powerpoint loads

Bonus points if you’re bad with chopsticks and can splatter on your next door neighbor’s notebook. If you’re feeling generous, ask if anyone wants a bite?

About the author

Sara Moulton

Sara Moulton is a writer living in Singapore. She dreams of working in the Pawnee office in Parks and Rec and researches topics like 'deep work' for fun.

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