Those of you who follow me on twitter may have noticed I’ve been in a lot of meetings lately (actually, I don’t know if I’ve griped as much as I thought I have, so just trust me).

Anyway – when I attend meetings, I try to ignore my laptop and phone and pay more attention (afaik, this is rare among microsofties). If the meeting is boring or isn’t making any progress, I usually just leave. Sometimes leaving isn’t the best career move, so sometimes I just use my boredom to observe what’s going on in the room. I find as far as interpersonal awareness goes, it’s good practice to look and see how people are reacting to the discussion and see how well I can understand their reactions and motives.

While this is all good stuff, the cynic in me has discovered another trend that I thought I’d run by the faithful forty for your thoughts. What I’ve found is 4 types of people who generally populate meetings of any substantial size (>8 or so).

First, we have “the nodders”. They rarely have anything to add to the conversation, but they nod their head a lot as other people provide input. The strength of the nod is usually directly related to the seniority of the speaker.

Next, we have “the typers”. Typers use meetings like study hall. They type on their laptops constantly throughout the meeting. The good “typers” can type extra lout without any extra effort. Occasionally, typers will look up from their keyboards and briefly become “nodders”. As a bonus, they will often ask the speaker to repeat what they just said.

Then, we have “the suckups”. Like the nodders, they don’t have much of anything original to say, but they are masters at strongly agreeing with everything the most senior people in the room have to say.

Finally, we have “the participants”. These are probably theonly people that should have been invited to the meeting in the first place. Fortunately, there are usually enough of them around to make the meeting worthwhile. Ideally, every meeting is 90-100% “participants”, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

Another type– “the watcher” occasionally shows up. Of course, when we do, we usually just make fun of everyone else :}