The Rules of Power Seating at Corporate Meetings

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Where you sit matters.

The corporate world is rife with rules about what you can and can’t say in meetings and how you should or shouldn't behave with co-workers. But it turns out, there are also some rules governing the most basic activity in business—where you sit.

Knowing where to park it during a company meeting can create a political tsunami that could wash out your career, or it could create a powerful wave that you could ride all the to your next promotion.

Let’s look more closely at the rules you need to know about where to sit in your next meeting.

How to Select Your Seat at a Meeting

Picking the right seat at the table really does matter. Dr. Richard Winters, a physician at the Mayo Clinic and executive coach, outlines the four “power positions” you should aware of in a meeting.

  1. The Power Position is exactly where you think it might be—at the very head of a long table. It’s a crucial spot if you are the designated meeting facilitator. From your lofty vantage point, you’ll be able to run the meeting like an orchestra conductor.
  2. The End of the Table is opposite the power position. Many times, a non-regular attendee or guest will sit in this spot. While the seat still offers visibility, it is also a good spot for a pop-in/pop-out attendee. However, be aware that you are also opposite the meeting leader, which may or may not reflect your attitude toward them.
  3. The Right Arm or the Flanking Position can be to the right or left of the first chair. Here you can influence the meeting without leading it. You can subtly nudge the facilitator under the table if they run the meeting off track or even write them a note and sneak it 'next door.'
  4. The Middle Few are those quietly sitting in the middle of the pack. This may make you a neutral party in a big decision-making process. It’s a good place to sit if this is your first meeting in this group and you’re trying to size up the room.

Who knew where you sit in your next meeting could have so many important ramifications?

Help! My Table Isn't a Rectangle?!

But what if the table isn’t long or horizontal? What if the meeting table is a rabble-rousing, rule-breaking circle?

Dr. Winters says a circular table, for the most part, signals team collaboration. But, if the table is too big, the meeting won’t be as effective. So, where should you sit? In these instances, sit as close to the meeting leadership as you can, both to signal your interest and to stay in the loop (pun intended) of the meeting.

The other snafu to consider is if there are no end chairs at a horizontal table. Psych! In these instances, it might be best to sit in the middle of the table. Everyone will naturally turn inward to address that person. Also, you can see everyone from that angle.

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Artisan Talent—Find Your Power Position

Artisan Talent helps find and source creative talent for businesses of all sizes. We can help you find your seat of real power in a company you’ll love. Contact us today!

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