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5 Tell-Tale Signs You’re In a Tense Meeting

February 22, 2019 | Filed in: Take a Break

You’re in your regular Tuesday stand-up and suddenly, things take a turn. It might have been an innocent question or a more intentionally pointed remark, but how you got there doesn’t matter. You are now officially in a Tense Meeting. Here are the five telltale signs to look for—and how to hunker down and survive.

1. Awkward Silence

Todd just asked Christine a question he knows she doesn’t have the answer to. Was it innocent, or diabolical? Either way, no one is talking and the vibe just got weird.

How to get through it: Ponder Todd’s intentions as you pick some microscopic lint off your dress, then casually slide your hands into your pockets. A little silence doesn’t bother you.

2. Typing

Now that things have officially Gone Off The Rails, there is suddenly a lot of typing. There are two explanations for this: Either people are pretending to work to avoid the awkwardness, or they’re Slacking their friends about what’s going down in Conference Room 3.

What you’ll need to get through it: Resist the urge to open your own laptop, and instead draw the shawl you brought in to the meeting because the room is always freezing a little closer around you. Then, and only then, can you covertly text your work wife about what’s going down in Conference Room 3.

3. Avoiding Eye Contact

Once a conflict emerges in a meeting, it’s a universally acknowledged truth that people will do just about anything to avoid being drawn into it. Cue a lot of looking around anywhere but at the two people who are glaring at each other.

What you’ll need to get through it: Well, you’re certainly not going to be the one to interrupt the staring contest. You’ll need an interesting pattern on your pants or skirt to study intently.

4. Checking the Clock

It’s 3:56 P.M. The meeting began at 2:30. Another team has the room booked for 4:00 P.M. and they’re already hovering outside. There has been no resolution. People around you start eyeing the clock shiftily. But you don’t want to look disengaged, do you?

What you’ll need to get through it: Write your grocery list in your notebook as if you are jotting down brilliant ideas, then look down and smooth your skirt while you tele-transport out of the room.

5. Running out the Door

Finally, the suggestion is made to “take this offline.” There is no greater phrase in the English language—this means you are free! There is a collective, silent sigh of relief, followed by a race to the exit.

What you’ll need to get through it: A great pair of shoes that make a hasty escape look chic.

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Sarah Devlin is the former Director of Content for MM.LaFleur. She's worn many different hats over the course of her career — from writer and web editor, to social media editor and marketing strategist — but her hardest-won title is Kardashian Historian. Read more of Sarah's posts.

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