Two person (business) meetings, duets we will call them, tend to fall into one of four areas: education, security, political or disciplinary. Recognising which is sometimes explicit but not always and can sometimes combine two or more of the four. Looking at each:
(1) Education: This is a broad category and covers duets for a number of reasons. It could be an onboarding or introductory session usually led by a well versed or more senior (to you) staff member tasked with giving you the initial knowledge of the organisation and your role in a very casual and personal style. It could be a specific training session where one expert gives you very focused one on one instruction of a task or way of working. It could also be a friendly ‘word in your ear’ advice from an empathetic colleague who wants to guide or warn you about something that you may be unaware of and they want to make sure you don’t come to any disadvantage from your ignorance.
(2) Security: This can be a sharing of discreet information in camera that is meant for your ears only: maybe a new password or commercially sensitive data or a heads up on a coming event that has a restricted audience that are aware of it. Basically it is a meeting where information passes in confidence.
(3) Political. This can be very much like either 1 or 2 above at first sight and may be a genuinely focused factual update on a politically (business sense) charged situation but the difference is in the motivation. In 1 and 2 the purpose is to pass on information in which is factually useful and to your direct advantage to know. However, it can also be information given with a specific purpose to guide your actions, thinking or prejudices to another’s advantage and possible not your too. Unlike propaganda which is wide spread, these duets are often delivered with a tone of either negativity or a degree of sneering rather than agnostic delivery.
(4) Disciplinary. This is perhaps the most obviously purposed session and whichever side of the table you are in this duet the agenda is fairly standarised. Nevertheless the possibility is still there that the discussion may veer into one of the above territories. Number 1 is obvious…reference to skills levels is likely in a disciplinary setting. Number 2 is unlikely unless some breach has been one reason for the session. Number 3 is quite possible though if either party wish to use the this opportunity to seed a secondary agenda.
These may all appear obvious observations but the point is to be able to recognise which duet you are in and if and when a secondary one creeps in. Knowing how to recognise either actuality will be key to your response being appropriate. It also might give you pause to ask yourself why you have been chosen, ;particularly of course with 2 and 3: as a new starter and ingenue to the corporate line, is it an attempt make you an early adopter of a particular cadre’s agenda? Later do you appear to share values?
Remember even in a duet meetings can be more complicated than they appear so stay alert.