This past week I had the opportunity to have lunch with a vendor at his clients’ site. As a part of the lunch there is the usual dog and pony show. Vendors are trying to get you to buy their product after-all.
After this rendez-vous, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the lunch and the product demonstration as well as the entire meeting at the client site. Part of this reflection was to determine the roles that each party plays in such a meeting (client, potential client and vendor). Also part of this reflection was the discussions I have held with co-workers both present and not at this meeting.
It is not uncommon to speak of local area events or other things not business related to help bridge the gaps when the discussion lulls a little or you are at a wait point. In my area there were two major conventions coming up and thus for some circles that would make sense. One of the conventions was CES and the other was the Adult Entertainment one. In a business meeting that revolves around technology, I would be stunned if CES did not come up in the conversation at some point. During our meeting it did – only as a flighting thought though. That, in retrospect is somewhat astonishing.
Without the decision makers present in the meeting, the demo took a back seat and I was trying to find a way out there tactfully and professionally. I probably should have been less tactful and more forceful – but I was the guest. I found myself being somewhat ignored, surrounded in sailor language and hearing my hosts go on and on about the Adult Entertainment convention just down the street. Talk about a business meeting gone awkward and weird.
Thus I came to the realization of some things that really should be happening during business meetings.
Language and behavior that I experienced as an outsider to this company only begs the question – Where is the filter? Would they behave the same around other staff and staff of a different gender. What about the corporate harassment policies? Let’s extend that to business ethics and morality – how does it mesh with the corporate image? Like it or not, people will judge you and your corporation by your actions and words.
When I recounted the behaviors I encountered to my co-workers, they were stunned. When I recounted it to my wife, she was abhored. I was a little too lenient when they started off slowly. I figured, I was a visitor and a slip of the tongue here or there might be acceptable in their business. Don’t hesitate to request a change in vernacular or behavior if you find it insulting.