Customer Service Blog

The Rudest thing you can Do in a Virtual Meeting

I should qualify that title. As you can imagine, there are plenty of inappropriate behaviors that people could display on Zoom or Teams. Some are obvious: taking phone calls, talking to coworkers in the background, forgetting to wear pants (yikes)! In terms of virtual rudeness, I’m referring to the most common etiquette sin many people commit in the first five seconds, without being aware of it.

I’m referring to logging in ‘late’, and by late I mean arriving at exactly the appointed meeting time. I learned the lesson decades ago as a university student at a business class where they’d invited a vice president of Trimac Transportation as a guest speaker to share real-world advice on unwritten rules of advancing your career and enhancing your workplace reputation.

One of his tips was the importance of arriving for meetings on time. He explained that if you arrive 10 minutes early, the client may feel rushed. And it looks like you didn’t have much else to do. If you arrive just one or two minutes early or at exactly the appointed time, it seems like you barely made it, and they might have already been wondering if you’d show up. Let’s not even talk about arriving late! “The ideal time to arrive for a meeting,” he advised, “is five minutes early.”

I believe that five minute rule still applies – particularly for virtual meetings. I was reminded of it recently when I was asked to mentor a business student as a favour to a colleague. The student and I scheduled a Zoom meeting, and he arrived at exactly the appointed time. I was slightly annoyed. He requested the meeting, yet he isn’t there to greet me as I arrive? Imagine if you were invited to someone’s home and you show up a few minutes early (which you shouldn’t, but that’s a different tip), only to find the host doing chores and surprised to see you. Doesn’t exactly make you feel special or welcome, does it?

More importantly these days, we all may be suffering from a lack of in-person connections with customers, colleagues, and coworkers. Arriving at the meeting start time means losing the opportunity for pre-meeting chit chat. In person, you arrive for a meeting five minutes ahead of time, get settled in and quietly ask your colleague next to you, “How is your mom doing after her surgery?” We lose that kind of intimacy when there are five people on a Teams call covering agenda point #3. Plus, with technology, there’s a chance we may have some technical glitches that take some time to get sorted.

What do you think – is just in time really on time? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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