An American asked if British people hate meetings and the cultural divide has never felt wider
Time now to look again at just how wide the cultural divide is between the UK and the US after BigJ32001 asked this over in the corner of Reddit called ‘AskUK’.
‘Do British People Hate Meetings?’
And it turns out the chasm between our two great – ha! – nations is even more gaping than we remembered, with no end of Brits giving their polite American inquisitor the absolute what for.
‘I’ve sat in so many meetings that have resulted in no outcomes or actions for anyone… Utterly pointless. Might as well stand on your head and piss down your back!’
‘I don’t hate them but I have two things I need a good answer to before I attend:
‘Am I making a contribution that leads to someone else doing something?
‘Am I being told something that leads to me doing something?
‘If neither of those is yes, I’m not coming.’
‘Most meetings are six other people wasting time listening to two people.’
‘Meetings are fine if they’re concise and have a clear, positive outcome. Absolutely cannot stand meetings for the sake of meetings, where I lose 2-3 hours of my day where I could otherwise be doing my actual job.’
‘Most meetings could be emails.
‘They are usually an excuse for middle management to try and justify their existance.’
‘I work for a British company that got bought by an American company. It’s all amicable and we like working with our new colleagues.
‘The Americans noted the same thing as you: while no one likes a pointless meeting, the Brits seemed to avoid meetings as much as possible.
‘From our perspective, meetings seemed to take longer with the Americans. There was a lot more whooping, mutual congratulation, and hyping themselves up for the day.
‘We like to keep our meetings short and to the point. Americans would take the opportunity to remind one another that our company is the greatest, we’re going to win, let’s smash the opposition, etc. That kind of brand loyalty is unusual for a cynical Brit.’
‘It sounds like you are form the US and you are used to, and enjoy, being micromanaged and micromanaging your own customers back.
‘We do not have that in the UK to anywhere near the same degree and we find it very irritating when service providers try to manage us, we do not want to have to manage them.
‘If they are not replying, it’s because you’re not important at the time. I work on a lot of M&A with US and UK and this is an observation I have made.’
‘The US does seem to like a meeting. I’ve had more than a few people ask me what hotel I’m staying at so they turn up for a breakfast meeting with me.
‘Thankfully back then my breakfast was coffee and cigarettes so I had a good excuse for getting out of it
‘I would say that my UK meetings are more based around getting through things as quickly as possible so we can recover some time.’
‘British people, just like every nationality of people are not some gestalt conscience where we all think and feel the same thing.
‘I personally hate pointless meeting but have no issue with meetings that actually add value. Maybe the Brits you are working with think your meetings are the former, especially so given as you have said yours are “extremely brief”.
‘Sounds like your meetings are not adding any value.’
‘If the meeting is less than 5 minutes it could have easily been an email.’
‘I will read between the lines a little
‘OP [original poster] works in the US, likely in a US timezone, UK workers in their timezone. One of these parties is likely attending these meetings close to the end of their working day.
‘Also, weekly meetings, with a customer? if they arent asking for them, then why are you? Let the customer drive the requirements, when these fail to be enough, bill them for the innevitable further work they require.
‘Edit – Sorry you said supplier not customer which would make you the customer, if the supplier are asking you to cut them out, maybe they consider the meetings to no longer be beneficial?’
‘Meetings for the sake of meetings yeah. If an issue can be handled in 5 mins, it doesn’t need a meeting tbh.
‘Go through client manager (if there’s one) for answers, or whoever the escalation clause is. But I won’t sit in a call with my American colleagues just to sit in a call, they can pop me a message and I’ll respond or half the time they’ve already given me the answer to the question they’re asking so I’ll just thumb it up.’
‘My personal experience would be: USA partner company regularly wants a “quick” (read 30 minutes, so not at all quick) meeting at 10 am their time.
‘They then refuse to understand why our company constantly rejects this, or where not possible, rush through it as quickly as possible.
‘From our end, you’ve just scheduled a meeting for 5 pm and, knowing most meetings, almost none of it will be relevant.
‘There’ll be a load of chat for the sake of “building relationships”. I’ve got 7 hours to get work done each day, so I don’t need to spend 30 minutes discussing what you did this weekend. That is important with the people I spend all day each week with.
‘It’s irrelevant with somebody 4,000 miles away I’ll never meet.
‘The phrase “could’ve been an email” is basically religion in most UK workers’ minds.’
And finally, maybe we’ve got more in common than we think.
‘Everyone hates meetings, it has nothing to do with being British.’
Over to you, rest of the world …