Managing Those Sidebar Discussions
By Patricia Pringle
What Are They Talking About?
Joe Smith and his team are in a meeting with Manabu Okumura and two members of his team who are visiting from the head office in Japan. They are in the middle of two days of face-to-face meetings to get through a long list of test items in preparation for regulatory testing. They are all talking in English, but just when the discussion gets going on a particularly critical point, Okumura's team goes into a huddle and starts speaking together in Japanese. This happens quite a lot, and goes for five or even 10 minutes at a time. Joe begins to get annoyed. What are they talking about? Don't they see how rude it is to interrupt the meeting and waste everyone's time? What are they talking about, anyway?