Alright. You are three espresso shots down. You have already excused yourself [a lot of times!] out of the meeting room to breathe in a dose of fresh air. You traded your super comfortable, reclining chair with your colleague. And, still spacing out? What’s worse is that you were called out just when you were slipping or already in that happy, secret space of yours. What do you do then? Do you mumble and fumble and act a little crazy or stay quiet and not wrack your panicky nerves? Well, to be fair to you, let’s say that most of us have spaced out during long, boring meetings. Even the CEOs do. So, you don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed about it at all. In fact, there exists a fool-proof, 3-tier strategy that will rescue you just in time. So, here goes:
When we zone out people around us do come to know about it. We only pretend to be the smart ones and assume nobody saw our minds walking us out of the room into a world that’s beyond their understanding. But, even if it is for a snap of second, even then it is silly to think no one noticed. If you’re asked a question pertaining to those few seconds you weren’t mentally present then just accept that you lost them at [insert the last point they made]. And.
Apologize. However, don’t say, “Can you go over it again because I didn’t listen to you”. Saying so is quite disrespectful. Instead, make it clear that you didn’t miss the entire discussion (make sure you didn’t!) and say, “I’m so sorry, I’m still thinking about the budget forecast for the next quarter which you had briefly mentioned earlier.”
Act smart. Sound interested/involved.
While you were busy day-dreaming or thinking about where next to holiday, there may have been interesting points and observations made. All you can probably do after being nudged back to reality is not sound hassled. Instead, act a little smart and seek clarification in the cleverest way possible! You obviously won’t be able to succeed in coaxing them to go over it again especially for you, but try saying this: “As much as I hate doing this, but can you possibly go over it again so that I understand that is what you meant. I can also then give you my input” or “I didn’t quite understand what you meant when you said ‘it’s a not a risk to conduct a competition analysis’. How come? Can you go explain yourself again? I would like to add something to it once you’re done, please.”
Now that you’ve bravely stormed out of the tornado, put together your colleague’s inputs and respond. Make sure that this time around you hear every single word that falls on your ears and just doesn’t bounce off your sleepy, dreamy head.
As you speak to them and engage them in a conversation, involve other colleagues as well. Start a discussion, but if you’re hijacking everyone’s time (remember meetings are time-bound?), propose to meet (if required) after the meeting gets over.
Although, you now have a strategy to swing back from your dream world it doesn’t mean you can exit from the meeting as you fancy.
If you think you’re getting distracted because of your fancy phone that doesn’t stop buzzing keep it on silent mode. Also, keep a notebook or diary handy to take notes. Scribble key terms. Give inputs where you think is necessary because when you speak, your brain is processing information and you are right back in action. Even if you don’t want to say anything, paraphrase what they thought in your mind. This should help you stay on track! And, thankfully, saves you from being caught off-guard, if at all.