Is it true that where you sit in a meeting makes a difference to you? There’s a chance there is. We transmit messages about ourselves to the other members of the group when we choose our meeting seats. These choices aren’t made at random, and they provide information about a room’s power dynamics.
Observing a person’s seating preference, as well as their body language, might reveal how close that person is to the other members of a group. When a person chooses to sit, their motivations may be revealed. We may actively apply this information to achieve our own goals if we comprehend these key ideas.
When it comes to business, things can get a little more complicated than they are in a casual atmosphere. We aren’t as close to our coworkers as we are to our partners most of the time. You don’t want to appear distant, but you also don’t want to invade someone’s personal space. It can be difficult to establish a balance, but there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.
It is critical to frame your thinking before attempting to learn and apply new skills in any setting. If you were giving a presentation, you would remember to prepare slides, research, and write speaking notes ahead of time. Of course, you’d want to be ready, and you’d take the necessary precautions.
Before they sit down, few people remember to ask themselves what they intend to gain from the meeting or event. They may arrive late or pick a site at random. This may work on occasion, but you’ll have a higher chance of achieving what you want if you go into a meeting with clear intentions. It’s all about where you sit when it comes to getting what you desire.
While sitting in the back of the room may be appealing, it gives the sense that you don’t intend to participate or are unimportant to the process. People sit there when they feel like taking a sleep, when they want to have side chats with their colleagues, or when they need to check their email or text during the meeting. Have you ever observed how the rear seats are the first to fill up?
When a meeting is held around a board table, the same rule applies to the seats along the wall. If extra chairs are available for overflow, choose those seats only after all other seats at the table have been filled. Otherwise, you’ll be expressing your lack of enthusiasm, involvement, and self-assurance. So here goes on other seat choices.
At the head of the table is the position of authority. You are visible to everyone in the room. You can best facilitate the meeting’s flow from this seat. Being in a position of power does not imply that you have the greatest ego. A high-ranking person, such as a manager or C-suite executive, usually occupies this seat. This critical position places you in the middle of the conversation, allowing you to steer the conversation with your unique vantage point. So snag this seat if you want to command attention and steer the discussion in the right way.
As Chair, you must keep the meeting on track, keep participants focused, and reach a resolution. When there is no obvious Chair, the meeting becomes sloppy. It’s up to you whether you utilize this space to exercise personal power or to promote social good. However, if you choose to sit at the table in a weaker position, your capacity to be an effective Chair will be compromised.
The second power position is the seat directly across from the Chair. This seat is usually allocated for the visitor. It’s easily visible to everyone, and it’s a fantastic spot for persons who need to jump into the meeting to present certain agenda items. This end seat can be an effective place to express dissatisfaction with the Chair. You take a seat here, directly across from the leader. The wise leader will avoid causing division by refusing to sit at the opposite end of the table. To keep people from sitting there, put up a screen for slides or a whiteboard. Alternatively, for the meeting, establish a different table configuration.
The people who sit next to the Chair have the Chair’s ear. Assisting the Chair from this position allows you to affect the meeting’s flow. You have the ability to direct attention to or away from certain things. You can ask for the agenda to be sped up or slowed down. The seat to the right of the Chair is traditionally reserved for the second in charge. The up-and-comer should take the left seat.
Many people at the table don’t notice the people who sit in the middle. They’re being spoken about a lot. Only the table’s leaders can see everyone. To soften or reduce their objections, you might choose to sit in the middle adjacent to others who hold opposing viewpoints. If you sit closer to the Chair, your adversary will have to speak over or through you. If you don’t want to be heard, the middle of the table is a nice spot to sit. If you’re unfamiliar with the group and want to quietly assess the situation, sit here. If you want to be forgotten or unnoticed, this is the seat for you.
At times, there are no seats available at the table’s far end. In this setup, the power position is in the centre of the table. It provides the best view of the most people. On the same side as the Chair, at the end of the table, is the weakest position.
It’s just as vital to pay attention to how you sit now that we’ve figured out where to sit. Body language can transmit a lot of information, and you want yours to communicate openness, excitement, and loyalty. It’s as simple as playing the “lava game” to do so. Pretend the back half of your chair is molten hot lava, just as when you were a kid and pretended the floor was molten hot lava you couldn’t touch. This forces you to sit closer to the chair’s front, giving you the option of sitting up straight with good posture or leaning slightly forward.
You’ll appear more interested in either case, which speaks to trustworthiness and boosts your likability. Sitting back and/or leaning back or to the side, on the other hand, is the same as psychologically leaning away. These postures, like crossing your arms, create an invisible barrier between you and other people, signaling that you are uninterested.
If you’re new to the group, take your time selecting a seat. This is a time when you should wait for others to take their seats or for someone to offer you a seat before taking your own.
If you take the first open seat at the table, you might be taking over the usual meeting spot of one of the executives. Groups who gather for an extended period of time use seating charts. It’s a lot like going to church. You know who sits in which pew every Sunday. You can avoid an embarrassing situation and show civility by waiting for directions.
Hey, have a seat! Wisely of course!
Check out my related post: Two pizzas at a meeting anyone?