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Do Meetings Make Us Dumber?

Many of us have had the experience of being in a meeting and wanting to contribute to the conversation, but instead resorted to clamming up and adding nothing.  It’s as if we’ve suddenly become dumber than we actually are.  For people who feel like this is a chronic condition, the frustration and self-doubt that results from the inability to speak up in group settings can be overwhelming.

New research helps explain why this may be happening, and it turns out that people really do lose their intelligence in meetings and other social situations. Thankfully, there are some strategies to help overcome this tongue-tied state of affairs.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute found that people who felt they were struggling in small group interactions temporarily lost their ability to solve problems and express their thoughts.  The study found that this phenomenon was more common in women and in people with higher IQs.

The researchers ventured that the low-performers were highly attuned to the group’s social dynamics, causing them to subconsciously worry about their performance.  It’s well known that women are often more sensitive to what others are thinking or feeling then men.  In fact, TRACOM’s own research has found that women tend to score higher than men on the Feedback component of Versatility.  Feedback measures empathy, interpersonal communication, and relationship-building skills.

If you are “meeting-challenged” don’t despair, there are strategies you can use to help feel more confident in meetings and other social situations. For a list of these tips and more detail about the study, click here to read an article in the Wall Street Journal.

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