How to Handle Department Meetings

By Priya Sunil

In the workplace, department meetings are unavoidable. And when it comes to these meetings, a sense of self-doubt can be tough to shake off, especially if the concepts and issues being discussed are flying over your head. A little self-doubt is natural and can sometimes spur you to excel.

But if all you want to do is shrink into a corner away from the prying eyes of your boss, this self-doubt can end up affecting your work performance and your standing with your boss – no one wants to appear non-participative in front of their boss!

The Pressure to Contribute

In any meeting (especially at the departmental level), everyone is expected to contribute in one way or another. The pressure to contribute will be inevitably present, but can get overwhelming when colleagues start ‘hogging the spotlight’ or when you are expected to be well-versed in a certain area of knowledge. The higher the expectation, the greater the pressure to contribute. Whether it’s through asking good questions or answering questions directed at you, your contributions to the meeting are tantamount to your usefulness and ability to deliver effectively!

The Fear of Rejection

Employees naturally experience a need for approval by both their bosses and their co-workers. And when it comes to proposing a (new) idea at a meeting, having it rejected out of hand can be a strongly negative experience. When what you thought was your best idea gets rejected, it’s easy to lose confidence in your capabilities – “What if my next idea gets rejected too? “What if it ends up being irrelevant?” Rejection can motivate you both ways: either to work harder, or to give up.

Getting Over Self-Doubt

Keep in mind that nobody’s perfect. Even if you are unsure of whether your ideas are good, sharing them is a starting point for improvement. It also shows your boss that you have the initiative to learn from the rest! And instead of doubting your ability to contribute, say ‘no!’ to your doubts! Start setting goals that instead force you to overcome your doubts.

For instance, challenge yourself to do some research on the agenda of the meeting and contribute to at least one topic that you are not wholly familiar with – this is what will get you fighting your fears and pressures faced in department meetings. As the well-known saying goes, “failure is the stepping stone to success.” What matters most is how pick yourself up, use the rejection as your boost and get going again!

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