Keep the Meeting on Topic

The other day I was having a chat with a friend who mentioned he had just met with his local MLA, who is also a member of the provincial Cabinet. My friend talked about how surprised he was when the Minister started expressing frustration with him about policies he would like to change and asking for my friend’s opinion on how that change could be made. My friend seemed pleased with the meeting until I asked him what the Minister planned to do about the issue he had actually gone to meet the Minister about. My friend sheepishly admitted he had not been able to spend as much time discussing his issue as he had hoped, since more time was spent on the issue the Minister had raised, and he did not feel he had communicated his message effectively.

This is not the first time I have seen this happen.  I suggested that next time he was faced with a similar situation, he should indicate to the Minister he would be more than happy to talk about that second issue at another time which was convenient to the Minister, but today he had asked to meet to discuss his particular concern. By ceding control of the agenda to the Minister, my friend lost his opportunity to advocate effectively. Furthermore, at the end of the meeting he might have suggested to the Minister that he could make an appointment with the Minister’s scheduling assistant on the way out for a future meeting to discuss the issue on the Minister’s mind.

Don’t lose your opportunity by being drawn into an agenda that isn’t your own. Be diplomatic, polite and accommodating, but don’t be drawn in to pointless chatter or a discussion on issues not relevant to your purpose.