This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.



Thursday, 2 February 2017

A handy way with meetings: a rant.

Dan Carley has a position in a British Government Department (or institution or service or something) called 'Platform as a Service'. I'm told it's something to do with the cloud.

(Platform as a Service? Good grief, I can feel my blood pressure rising already, and this rant isn't even about that.)

Anyway. Mr Carley, tired of noisy arguments and irrelevances at much-too-long meetings, has devised some hand signals to quieten things down and speed things up.

If you agree with someone, you signal this by holding your hands with both palms facing upwards; disagreement, logically enough, by two palms held downwards; wanting to speak by one palm held up; direct response by fingers in the shape of a gun; a request for clarification by the fingers of one hand making a C shape; and a point of order by a two-handed diamond shape.

After some months' trial the system is apparently working well: people can finish want they want to say without interruption.

But...hey, hang on! Surely Mr Carley is re-inventing the wheel, here. What's wrong with the traditional extended nodding and soft grunts that signals agreement in meetings? Or the rolling-eyes, heavy sigh and contemptuous snort of disagreement? 

One hand held up has indicated a desire to speak (or be excused) for many years; and as for the request for clarification, the screwed-up face and head-scratch with a forefinger speaks at least as loudly as words.

As for the direct response and the point of order, they may not already have established body-language forms, but I don't see how these can be effective without actually, well, speaking...

...hey, I don't know, though...

...charades?

Word To Us Today: charade. This word is French for entertainment. Pleasingly, given the circumstances, it comes from the Proven├žal charrado, chat, from charra, chatter, an imitation of the sound chatter makes.





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