Two Truths and a Lie

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I have to admit that I am not really a fan of those work meetings that begin with a silly game like “Two truths and a lie.” That’s the one where everybody reveals something unexpectedly audacious about themselves that is hidden with a fib. For one thing, such an activity is supposed to be fun and interesting, but usually takes way more time than employees have to spare, especially teachers. While listening to all of the silly answers most of us are thinking about all of the work we might be completing instead of engaging in such foolishness. After all, it’s not as though we never talk with our coworkers and learn things about them. It’s also a fact that such games contribute little or nothing to helping us perform our jobs more successfully. 

I suppose that everyone has ideas about how to make work more fun, but, wasting people’s precious time is not a particularly good way to go about it. I tend to believe that meetings should have a definite purpose and be as short as possible. Never should there be a session just for the sake of fulfilling some obligation to have X number of get togethers. Anything covered in a meeting that might simply be sent in a text or email should be eliminated. 

I remember a time in my career when each department was supposed to meet to determine how we were going to prepare for an upcoming event. I was the Mathematics Department head and the other math teachers and I got together and developed a workable plan in about forty five minutes. We went right to the point, developed strategies and assigned specific tasks to each person. We agreed to stay updated via email. Our system worked magnificently and everyone was super happy. In fact, we kept on track and turned in our contribution several days early. The principal was quite happy with us and little did he know that our face to face encounters only took forty five minutes.

I later learned that other departments had stayed for three to four hours that same afternoon and then met regularly for several weeks to determine how everyone was progressing. When the other teachers learned about our streamlined method, they were stunned, and yet we accomplished as much and maybe even more than they did. I later found out that the other groups had to attempted make the sessions more palatable with food and little games. I guess those of us with mathematical minds were simply not imaginative enough to want such things. Ours was a bare bones venture with just enough time spent online each week to accomplish our goals without more work than necessary. 

Sadly, I eventually became the person who had to plan most of the faculty meetings and inservices. It was a task that I did not enjoy because all of the sessions had to be generic in nature when I knew that what the teachers really wanted was training targeted to their specific needs. Even more enticing would have been time to work in their classrooms developing lessons or grading papers. I fell into the trap of trying to make the sessions fun with silly games that mostly filled the time and probably weren’t really that fun for the teachers. 

I think that most bosses, principals, leaders would do well to carefully delineate training from team building, information from work. There is nothing wrong with employees having a bit of fun, but attempting to tie it to learning sessions is usually just annoying to most people. Time is precious on any job and it does no good to use people’s time on meaningless activities even if they are meant to help them relax. More than anything people want to know how to improve their job performance. Sometimes the best way to do that is in small chunks. Targeted learning thirty minutes here and thirty minutes there will make more of a lasting impression that holding people hostage for an entire day. 

As for informing employees of important information, there are a number of ways to do so without a formal meeting. A weekly email or text works nicely for such things. If there needs to be a way of assuring that everyone has actually read the message, there can be a way of responding back that tracks participation in the process. In truth, nobody likes to waste time. Even a ten minute Zoom session does the trick better than gathering everyone together and using up precious moments that might better be used doing other things. 

I do know that we all have different personalities and perceptions of how to work well together. I suppose that many people like all the frivolity of meetings interspersed with games. I even understand that some folks prefer and even enjoy diligently detailed sessions with other employees. They want step by step by step instructions. I guess my mindset is just not there. 

In the spirit of such things I will go ahead and play that silly game that so often shows up when workers get together for a training session or just an informational meeting. My version is that each person tells two truths about themselves and one lie. Then the group guesses which are the truths and which is a lie. So here goes mine…1. I once interviewed a television personality for a newspaper article.  2. I once got lost on a trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. 3. I am descended from Vikings.