Is it Rude to Have a Sidebar Conversation?

Sidebars during meetings always tend to do more bad than good. Yet, that doesn't stop us from having them - and drawing unwanted attention our way. Modern Manners Guy has 3 tips to do sidebars right.

Richie Frieman,
August 12, 2013
Episode #259

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Here’s how a sidebar conversation works: Someone is talking to (or in front of) a group of people and two (or more) people in the group decide to have their own conversation at the same time.  It sounds annoying, right? When you're having a sidebar, whether it’s important or not, you are essentially actively ignoring the speaker. Rude, right? Well yes and no.

Not all sidebars are shallow conversations about where you're going for lunch or the foxy new intern.  Okay, maybe the majority of sidebars are like this, but I'll take the high road and say that sidebars when done properly can actually be acceptable.

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So before you start whispering to your neighbor, check out my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for sidebar etiquette:

Tip #1: Subtlety Is Key

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that speaking while someone else is making a presentation is unmannerly behavior, yet we all witness and we all do it. So am I being a stick in the mud because I think telling the person next to you how bad the oatmeal in the cafeteria was this morning can wait until after the meeting?


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