An impromptu meeting might be disguised as a “quick question,” “quick check-in,” or “quick chat,” but these meeting sneak attacks feel more like “quick reasons you should have worked from home today.”
The key to appearing smart in an impromptu meeting is to seem excited, available, and open to any discussion while also thwarting any attempt at meaningful conversation. This way, they’ll walk away (quickly) thinking you are the smartest person in the hallway.
1. Openly welcome the meeting
Immediately stop what you’re doing and ask your coworker how he is. Seem genuinely excited to see him. This will make you seem approachable and transparent. When others describe you, they will use the words “friendly” and “warm.” This will distract from any shortcomings you have in knowledge or talent.
2. Give a compliment
Giving a compliment is a great way to seem truly interested in your coworker while also making her feel a little self-conscious and awkward. She’ll momentarily forget why she came over to talk to you in the first place, which will make her seem disorganized. By comparison, this will make you seem like you really have your shit together.
3. Start with a hard stop
Start the conversation with a hard stop. This will make your coworker think that every minute of your day is smartly accounted for. Your coworker will now feel the need to get to the point quickly, and if he can’t, he can send you an e-mail instead.
4. Say “I just need to make sure I’m not missing anything else right now”
Of course you’d love to talk, but you need to just make sure you’re not missing anything else right now. Take your time checking your calendar and e-mail on your laptop. Then check your phone. Then check your tablet. Then go back to your laptop. Then say it looks like you’re free, until something comes up.
5. Pull someone else into the conversation
Pulling someone else into the conversation will give you “connector” status—and make you seem like you know whom to talk to about what. Once the third person joins, remember that you have another meeting and leave your two coworkers to continue the impromptu meeting without you.
6. Say you’d love to document this conversation
If your coworker begins talking in detail about a project, say that an e-mail might be better so that the conversation can be documented. If they say they already sent you an e-mail about it, ask them to send it again because it probably got buried. Then spend five minutes complaining about how many e-mails you get and how so many people are waiting on your input on several different things.
7. Say you’re listening even though you continue to type
Interject with a few uh-huhs and mm-hmms every now and then while you type random words into a document. Your multitasking skills will seem very impressive.
8. Ask to see the data
Pride yourself on “data-based” decision making and always ask to see the data before the conversation can move forward. If your coworker has the data, ask for more. If she has more, ask her to summarize it. By the time you get the summary, the data will be out of date, so ask for the latest data.