This week’s guru

Tall stories for meeting absences

The most recent in a long line of lame and medically dubious excuses for
slacking is ‘meetings avoidance syndrome’.

Allegedly, excuses for getting out of meetings and conferences are becoming
more common and more imaginative – especially among men – and creative
solutions from organisers to stop meetings avoidance syndrome are urgently

Research by Meetings & Incentive Travel magazine shows that 61 per cent
of meetings organisers believe at least a third or more of their delegates have
told tall stories to get out of attendance.

The survey also indicates 18 per cent of organisers think that at least
two-thirds of delegates persistently make excuses to be absent.

Some of the better ones offered include one chap who claimed to have a fear
of confined spaces, so he would not attend an event in a room with more than
five chairs, regardless of how large the conference room was.

One woman claimed she had to perform her conjugal services for her husband
at 5am and then fell asleep. And one practical lass said she didn’t bother to
attend because she had to leave early and didn’t want to disrupt the meeting.
How considerate.

Guide to Brits spells it out for the Yanks

Guru has always had problems when meeting Americans. He usually ends up
getting in a fight over a misunderstanding about who’s drunk and who’s angry
when both are ‘pissed’.

So he was delighted to learn that American consultancy Sherisen
International has created corporate advice guides for Yankee execs, which
detail cultural anomalies between us and our cousins across the pond.

They include the following advice about how to avoid making embarrassing faux
pas while in the UK (Guru has added his own suggestions about how to make
yourself British, just in case you’re out of practice):

Wear double-breasted suits, as they are the fashion. (Guru says: Look out
’80s power suit.)

When greeting a Brit, the proper greeting is ‘how do you do?’ or ‘I’m
pleased to meet you’. The appropriate response is ‘how do you do?’ Of course,
this should accompanied by a firm handshake. Be warned that ‘British women
often present a weak handshake’. (Forget bums and tums, concentrate on fingers
and thumbs next time at the gym.)

American executives can expect to be offered ‘a glass of sherry before
lunch’. (Just don’t do this.)

In social situations ‘the British love animals, so pets are a good topic’.
(Cancel ‘Badger Bating Thursday’ in the office when US workers are around.)

The guide warns that many in Europe find Americans loud and ill mannered. At
least we now know this is because the guide stashed in their briefcase tells
them to be. That’s a relief.

Strike action hots up debate for unions

In the previous issue, Guru celebrated Christmas – the season to be jolly.
However, he realises he may have made a mistake. ‘Tis in fact the season to be

British Airways was hit with a wildcat strike, which cost it £30m or so, and
the Communication Workers Union got very upset with Royal Mail over bonuses
paid to managers. At Stagecoach Devon, there were accusations of a manager
running over a striker with his bus while crossing the picket line. People seem
to be going crazy from the heat and from their employers.

With the unions flexing their muscles on a regular basis, a thought struck
Guru like George Prescott after an egg attack – what happens if union staff
want to go on strike? Do they ballot themselves? Does their general secretary
lead them against themselves? If not, who represents them? Surely they are not
members of a rival union.

While they are on strike, are union staff precluded from organising strikes
for others? It seems a bit unfair that only they should enjoy the sunshine.
Lenin would be most upset. Guru would appreciate it if someone could set the
record straight on this one.

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