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首页 > 商务英语 > 商务会议

如何终结那些枯燥乏味的会议

2015-02-03 17:35   类别:阅读   来源:bbs   作者:Bart   责编:Bart


One of my resolutions this New Year is to popularize the term “thick presence.” It sounds lurid, but it’s not.

我的新年决心之一就是宣传“亲密共处”这个理念。听起来有些耸人听闻,但事实上并非如此。

The phrase isn’t mine—it belongs to Tim Leberecht, author of the soon-to-be released The Business Romantic. But the moment I heard it, I recognized the phenomenon. It describes an effect I’ve experienced several times but couldn’t easily define, let alone know how or why it was so gratifying.

这种说法并非我的原创——它的版权属于蒂姆o列伯莱希特。他的新书《商业罗曼蒂克》即将出版。最初听到这种说法,我就立刻确认出这种现象。它描述的效果,我也曾经历过许多次,但不知道该如何定义,更不知道这种效果如何或者为什么令人如此满意。

Thick presence is spending several unbroken hours with someone, unplugged and untethered to phones. For a stricter definition, imagine a daylong meeting with one other person to discuss one project—without the interference of email, phones, or other obligations.

所谓“亲密共处”就是连续几个小时与某个人在一起,不插电,远离电话。更严谨的说法是,想象与另外一个人进行一整天的会谈,讨论一个项目——没有电子邮件、电话或其他职责的干扰。

I realize this may sound dreadful. The thick presence moments I experienced over the past year went something like this: Meet client shortly after 9 a.m. Have coffee and a pastry. Sit down at a big table amid all the documents and deliverables we’ll be discussing. Chat for a long while then get to work. A few hours in, we order in lunch, stopping only to tip the delivery person and for bathroom breaks. We let the conversation wander into personal territory at times because we are not relentlessly on task—in fact, we’re being very much ourselves. What matters is that for the approximately nine hours we’re together, we are stuck with each other. Stuck in the moment. Stuck with this one item on our shared to-do list, and we can’t call it a day until it’s crossed off.

我知道这听起来可能有些可怕。我在过去一年经历过这种“亲密共处”时刻:上午刚过9点去见客户。一起喝咖啡,吃点心。坐在一张大桌子前面,桌子上摆满了我们将要讨论的所有文件和可交付成果。我们聊了一会儿,然后开始工作。几个小时之后,我们订了午餐,期间除了给送餐员小费,去了一趟洗手间,我们一直没有中断讨论。我们有时候会聊一聊私人的事情,因为我们不可能永远专注于任务——事实上,我们非常自由,非常放松。重要的是,在大约九个小时内,我们都沉浸在两个人的世界里,沉浸在当下,沉浸在我们两人都需要完成的待办事项上,直到任务完成,我们才结束了一天的工作。

I’ve noticed that three things happen during these long days. Both my client and I have more energy at the end than we did at the start. Everything that we hoped to do gets done. And difficult decisions we’d dithered on for weeks suddenly become easy to make. Sometimes, in fact, the best answer appears so head-smackingly obvious that we wonder why we never realized it before.

我注意到在这期间发生了三件事。我和我的客户在临近结束的时候,比开始的时候精力还要充沛。我们希望做的每件事都圆满完成。我们纠结数周的艰难决定,突然之间变得非常容易。事实上,有时候,最好的答案变得如此显而易见,我们都纳闷为什么此前没有意识到这一点。

When I described my experience to Leberecht, he said the rare intensity and the “slightly captive” element to thick presence partly explains its effectiveness.

我向列伯莱希特描述我的经历时,他说“亲密共处”所具有的罕见强度和“轻微被监禁”元素,一定程度上可以解释其效果。

“Kind of like getting stuck in an elevator, and a stranger becomes your new best friend because of the extreme situation,” he added. “We rarely obtain this sense of thickness anymore, because our ever-connected lives are designed for giving us an abundance of exit options for most of our experiences.”

他补充道:“就像困在电梯里一样,由于极端的环境,一位陌生人会成为你最好的新朋友。我们已经很少能获得这种亲密感,因为永远在线的生活,让我们在大多数体验中有很多退出选项。”

In Leberecht’s view, if you want to forge a deep connection with someone, you’re better off spending 10 non-stop hours together than meeting them 10 times for one hour. It’s the same footprint in terms of total time spent, but the two approaches deliver vastly different outcomes.

按照列伯莱希特的观点,如果你希望培养与某人的深层关系,你最好用不间断的10个小时与对方在一起,而不是见他或她10次,每次持续1个小时。虽然所用的时间是相同的,但两种方法的结果却截然不同。

Leberecht also believes thick presence is rewarding because it’s actually quite hard—and the amount of effort we put into something often determines how much we value it. “Suffering a little,” as Leberecht puts it—“in this case, spending a whole day together in quasi-captivity and with no distractions”—disrupts our routine in a way that feels valuable. Doing this out-of-the-ordinary thing heightens the sense that the task as well as the people are involved are important.

此外,列伯莱希特还认为,“亲密共处”是有益的,因为我们真的很难做到这一点,而我们对一件事情的重视程度通常取决于我们为之付出的努力。正如列伯莱希特所解释的那样,“承受一点痛苦”——“在这个案例中,这种痛苦指的是,类似被囚禁一样相处一整天,没有其他干扰”——可以用一种让我们觉得有价值的方式打破常规。做这种不平常的事情,会增强一种感觉,即需要完成的这项任务,以及需要相处的这个人都非常重要。

But why did my clients and I actually get more done? Leberecht believes it’s a function of the risk involved. The probability of getting on each other’s nerves is off the charts. And that’s a good thing. “In thick settings, conflicts rise and escalate faster, which, by the way, is another business argument for thick presence,” he says. “It is an effective incubator and testing ground for ideas.”

但为什么我和我的客户实际上完成了更多任务?列伯莱希特认为,这是相关风险的一种功能。让对方紧张不安的可能性非常高,而这是好事。他说道:“在亲密情景中,冲突会更快出现和升级,而这也是支持亲密共处的另外一个商业理由。这是一种非常有效的创意孵化器和试验场。”

Sitting so near each other makes it hard to disguise disagreements—and there’s less incentive to do so. One might as well say whatever needs saying. It’s easier to share a prickly, possibly unpleasant truth when one can cushion the impact with a wobbly smile or a small kindness, even something as trivial as refilling someone’s water glass or getting up to fetch them another napkin.

彼此如此靠近,隐瞒分歧变得更难——而且人们也没有这样做的动机。一个人可能会说任何需要说的话。分享棘手的、可能令人不快的事实也变得更加容易,因为一方可以通过一丝微笑或小小的善意,甚至帮对方倒水或再拿一张餐巾纸这种细微的动作,来消除说出这些事实的影响。

It’s no coincidence, Leberecht posits, “that conflict resolution often requires the conflict parties to spend face-time together and that negotiations typically do not follow a 9-to-5 schedule. In politics or in business, thick settings force each side to truly ‘see’ the other and their agenda. This can catalyze the decision-making process.”

列伯莱希特断定:“解决冲突通常需要冲突双方面对面谈判,而且谈判一般不会按照朝九晚五的安排进行,这并非巧合。在政治或商业当中,亲密的环境迫使双方真正‘看到’对方和他们的议程。这样做可以推动决策进程。”

Perhaps thick presence is best appreciated when one considers the more common alternatives: meetings in which half the participants are tuned out or checking email—all while the other half drones on with self-important status reports; the conference calls that feel like utter wastes of time. Leberecht suggests that instead of weekly two-hour conference calls, collaborators on a project should spend one full day with each other once a month. Participants will take care of whatever the point of the call was, but they’ll also get more. The strengthened personal connections will transcend and outlast the project.

或许当人们在考虑更常见的替代方案时,才最能体会到亲密环境的价值。比如,开会的时候,一半与会者在考虑自己的问题或查看电子邮件,而另外一半则在滔滔不绝地讲述自以为是的状态报告;电话会议让人感觉纯粹是在浪费时间。列伯莱希特建议,不要每周拿出两个小时召开电话会议,项目的合作方应该每个月拿出一整天,在一起讨论问题。与会者将处理会议的所有议题,不过他们也会得到更多。人际关系的增强,要比项目本身更有价值,也更加持久。

Empathy is required going into thick presence, but thick presence also generates new empathy. It’s a virtuous cycle,” Leberecht says. “I truly believe the world would be a better place if we had Thick Days at work.”

要想进入亲密共处状态,必须具备同理心,而这种状态也会产生新的同理心。这是一个良性循环。列伯莱希特表示:“我相信,如果我们在工作当中都能推行这种理念,世界将变得更美好。”

Does this mean that companies should somehow institutionalize this practice? Not exactly.

这是否意味着公司应该将这种做法制度化?未必要这样做。

“What I’m hoping for, though, is that we establish a different mindset that embraces experiences of thickness as valuable and critical ingredients of business,” Leberecht says. “Not because they add up to heightened productivity or directly impact the bottom line, but because they allow us to make our companies more humane and bring our full selves to work, meeting others and ourselves in unexpected, more meaningful ways.”

列伯莱希特表示:“但我希望我们能够建立一种不同的思维,将亲密体验作为商业活动宝贵而关键的组成部分。并非因为这种做法能提高工作效率或直接影响收益,而是因为它可以将我们的公司变得更加人性化,让我们全身心投入工作,用意想不到的、更有意义的方式去接触其他人和我们自己。”

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