This Could Have Been an Email

Crystal Jackson

Most office meetings are a huge waste of time--yes, even the socially-distant Zoom ones. Everyone knows this except management, and they’re just pretending not to know it to comply with some sadistic need by upper management to exert dominance by forcing departments like cattle into a room to listen to boring updates that could have been put in a memo and emailed out to people who can read for themselves.

If we’re in the office and lucky, there are snacks.

But most of the time, we’re not that lucky, which is what brings us to this edition of Introverts Complain.

If you know and love an introvert (or are one), you know already that work meetings are the worst for a number of introvert-related reasons. This isn’t a definitive list, but it does cover some of the basics. Let’s just start with public enemy #1 when it comes to introversion and office meetings.

The corporate bosses must have pooled their shared knowledge of what employees hate to come up with this special form of hell: team building activities.

It’s not enough to bring people together to make them work toward shared goals, all in an effort to collect a paycheck and pay some bills. Employers also want to feel like they have a family atmosphere, and we all know that the only way to feel like family is to put the “fun” in dysfunctional. This is where team building activities come in.

Some favorites — of management and not the employees-- include role-playing, getting-to-know-you games, and games that involve ritual humiliation like charades. If no one has been shamed, no one (i.e., management) has had any fun.

Keep in mind, most employees are performing without the benefit of refreshments. Even rats in a maze get a treat!

For introverts, these activities are a special form of hell.

We’d love to demonstrate our competence by leaving the meeting room, going back to our desks, and actually doing our jobs instead of engaging in the giant time suck of meetings. Acting out a customer scenario, taking a pop quiz, or playing get-to-know-you games only raise our anxiety, and the fact that no one is allowed to opt-out makes this cruel and unusual punishment for personality types that don’t thrive on this sort of attention.

As an introvert who once had to plan this special form of torture, I tried to be cognizant of the struggle and chose games that did not involve the ritual humiliation normally connected to these activities. I also made sure that a handy snack was available to ease the pain while I carried out the overlords' fun-in-dysfunctional activity.

I can say that most of my team enjoyed it, but management often questioned if my team building games were really effective, as people seemed to be enjoying them rather than suffering.

It really makes you wonder.

Thankfully, I now work for myself, and if I’m holding a work meeting, it looks a lot like talking to myself. And there are always snacks available. But I offer this handy guide for those still stuck in introvert hell and dealing with unnecessary work meetings on the regular.

This has been another episode of Introverts Complain. Thanks for stopping by! Sorry I didn’t provide any snacks.

This probably could have been an email.

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails:

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