Imaan, never, ever go to a meeting without a position!
I can still hear the urgency in my mum’s voice when she first shared this with me a couple of years ago. A lawyer by profession, she takes every opportunity to share her pieces of wisdom from the working world. Of course, I appreciate it nonetheless (thank you Mum!).
This is an easy tip that I hope my friends and peers can also benefit from.
What does it mean to go to a meeting with a position? It means that you have an opinion about what you’re presenting. It means that you can take a stand for one option versus another, and you’re able to explain why you’ve suggested a set of next steps.
Too many people focus on delivering excellent summaries, and fail to take a position. They detail the facts of their individual contribution, and leave the most important part, the decision, up to their audience. What should we do next? Wrong.
In instances like that, my mum would tell me that you’re demoting yourself to a level below your abilities. When she coaches her articling students at Blue Letter Law, I would hear her say to them: “You’re going to be a lawyer. As a lawyer, you need to come to me with what you think we should do next. If you’re not doing that, then how are you any different from a secretary or an intern?”
The same goes for other professions. You’re a marketing grad, a software engineer, or a first year accountant. Heck, you could even be a friend in charge of selecting a restaurant for dinner.
Either way, you have the education and certainly the sense to critically evaluate the situation and recommend a course of action. You already have what you need to take a position.
Even if that position is wrong, or challenged by your boss or colleagues, you will earn their respect by having taken a position versus none at all.
So when you’re at your next meeting, be more than what you’re updating on. Be more than the facts and the description. Be the argument and the opinion that will show your creative and analytical thinking. Take a position.