Meetings: a formal aspect

Meeting as business interaction

Family Business: ,
Simon Winetroube about business meetings

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Simon Sweeney, David Cotton Graham Tullis , , . . , !

Family Business

(adapted from "Creating Opportunities" Oxford University Press)

Granddad (walking around a collection of ancient clocks): It is the first clock my father made. She is very old and she still keeps perfect time. I love good time-keeper. Look at that wood...

Michael: Its seven oclock, Granddad.

Granddad: Yes, I know it is.

Jane: We start at seven.

Granddad: Oh, OK.

Dad: What does it mean we start at seven? If I want to talk with my family Ill do it whenever I like.

Michael: We have an agreement, Dad. I think we should observe...

Dad: Did I ask for your opinion?

Mum: Can we bring the meeting to order, please?

Dad: Sorry, love. (After a pause) Sorry, madam Chairperson.

Mum: Right then. Lets begin. Michael, you have the apologies.

Michael: Yes. Martin Harris is sorry, he wasnt able to attend, hes in Manchester opening a new factory, and Charlotte Harris is in her room doing her homework.

Mum: Thank you. And can we read the minutes of the last meeting?

Michael: Certainly. Everybody agreed that a formal meeting is a good way to deal with family business. It was decided that wed meet once a month. Jane volunteered to cook Christmas lunch and Granddad will draw up a list of  TV programs well watch on Christmas Day.

Mum: Has action been taken on that?

Granddad: Yes, but Im afraid there is nothing good on TV. Not now The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II that was good.

Mum: Could we discuss that at another time?

Granddad: Sorry.

Mum: Are there any other matters arising from the previous meeting?

Dad: Yes. How about price limit on Christmas presents?

Jane: I second that. Its terrible when you buy cheap presents when you are given expensive ones. Not that I do of course.

Mum: 20 pounds?15? 10?

Dad: That seems reasonable.

Jane and Michael exchange dissatisfied glances.

Jane: Fine

Mum: Ten it is. Lets move on. The purpose of todays meeting is to discuss Janes wedding. Id like to finish by eight as theres chicken in the oven. Item one on the agenda is the budget. Dad, this is your department.

Granddad: I want to give her a good start in her married life, so I propose 5 000.

Dad: Thats very generous.

Mum: Lets go to item two, the date. Michael, I believe you looked into this.

Michael: Yes, I have. I dont think we should settle fixed deadlines, theres a lot going on in the next few months. Janes starting her new job in January, and I am moving house in March. In my opinion, its not feasible till August of next year.

Dad: August? Shell be an old woman till August

Jane: Dad?

Mum: Lets please lower the temperature. Jack, do you have a suggestion regarding the date?

Dad: Could we go for an earlier date? How about May?

Mum: Michael, you have the diary.

Michael: Saturday, 15th of May?

Mum: Does that meet with everyones approval? Good. Moving along, item three. The church. Jane?

Jane: Id like to suggest St.Lukes. you and dad were married there. And Michael and I were christened there.

Mum: Any reaction to that?

Granddad: I dont know whether it is relevant, but I intend to be buried there. So, we are giving them a lot of business.

Dad: In that case may I suggest we ask the vicar for a discount?

Mum: Thats an excellent idea! Finance department?

Granddad: Ill look into it and get back to you.

Mum: Good. Lets turn to item four. We need to decide where to hold the reception. Ideas, please.

Michael: I like the idea of a boat reception, sailing down the river Thames. Its so English.

Dad: Itll be very English sailing in May. Well be freezing.

Mum: Id rather had a Shiny Hall. Its big enough to hold 300 guests.

Granddad: Yes. Its a public place, made for speeches and dancing, 300 guests, an orchestra.

Dad: Young ones do not want an orchestra, they want a rock band.

Michael: Young ones will have to put up with it.

Mum: Id like to bring Jane in here. How do you feel about it?

Jane: Id prefer my flat.

Michael: Your flat? Wedding is a public occasion, and the place should be public.

Jane: Why? I want to be in my own place with people I like.

Michael: Thats not in the least realistic. We cant invite 300 guests into your flat.

Jane: I dont want 300 people. I think we could have just 100.

Michael: But wedding is always 300 people. Its traditional.

Granddad: I agree. Wedding is meant to be big, Jane.

Jane: Your grandfather thought clocks were meant to be big. Look at them now.

Dad: Can I raise a point here?

Mum: Go ahead.

Dad: Can we justify spending 5 000 pounds on a party of 100 people?

Mum: What do you think, Jane?

Jane: I take your point.

Mum: What about spending half of the budget on the reception and putting the other towards a bigger place for Jane? She will need a bigger place, with a husband, who knows, a baby. Whats the feeling of the meeting?

Granddad: Good idea. That might be the answer.

Mum: Excellent! We have the consensus. Shall we move on? We come now to the question of caterers.

(after a few minutes of discussion)

Is there any other business? No? Then well draw the meeting to a close.

Dad: Hold on. There is something else. Weve talked about the sandwiches, the Limousine, where well put our coats, but we havent discussed one thing that really matters.

Mum: Oh, forgive me. I meant to say that the next meeting will be here on the first of December. And at that well choose the husband.

(Dad winks at Jane)

Come and help me with the chicken.