1. You get to collaborate. Likely if you work in an office, you'd prefer not to work alone. And yet, too often we feel isolated in cubicles and stranded on an island in our inbox. Embrace the ability to come together face-to-face and collaborate with your team members. Social contact and the sharing of ideas will make you creative and perform better. Problem solving is best with two minds instead of one after all.
2. You get to talk about ideas. So meetings don't always have a clear purpose—but that can be a good thing. Come out from behind the computer and enjoy the ability to brainstorm and talk about new and fresh ideas. While it may seem like nothing comes of dreaming, your brain will be making connections in the background that will help support future work. Putting your head down to work is efficient, but lifting it up for a good conversation is energizing.
3. You get to practice being likable. Being likable at work is the key to success, and meetings are a great chance to find common ground, catch up on what your co-workers did over the weekend, and prove yourself as results-oriented and enjoyable to work with. Building those relationships will make you happier at work, and make it easier to get things done. Plus, finding the good in people and situations may allow you to look forward to your job.
4. You get to clarify your to-do list. Talking through priorities means you have a better idea of what needs to get done. Instead of staring into the overwhelming abyss of your task list, you know exactly what actions to take to provide the most value. And you may even get some help from a colleague or boss. Or you could be the one to offer a point of clarification. Either way, knowing what you're working on and why you're doing it is useful and fulfilling.
5. You get to be entertained. If your office is truly dysfunctional and doesn't provide the least bit of value in a meeting, well, at least you can take the opportunity to be entertained. Laughing to yourself about how Joe loves to hear himself talk, or how Jane reads every slide in her PowerPoint will take the edge off and keep you sane. Smiling releases endorphins and a nice, calming breath after it's all over will give you some perspective. Or at least it'll quell the urge to quit.
Meetings don't have to be frustrating or a waste of time. Use them to your advantage or amusement, and you'll find yourself looking forward to the next meeting of the minds.
Rebecca Thorman's weekly blog Kontrary offers tips to create the career, bank account, and life you love, and is a popular destination for young professionals. Her goal is to help you find meaningful work, enjoy the heck out of it, and earn more money. She writes from Washington, D.C.