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Preferred Seating

From, March, 2001

Business meetings are tough to control. Sometimes no one takes charge and little gets done. Other times, everyone battles for control. What causes such divergent results? A new breed of business consultants says it's all in the table.

"The best seating for meetings depends on what you're looking to accomplish," says Carol Olmstead, an independent consultant who practices the ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui. (See Creating a Harmonic Office.) She helps clients place objects, colors and textures in certain places, depending on their goals and objectives. Here are the types of tables she recommends you use in different situations:
  • Round. This is the type of table you should use if you want to get a good flow of ideas from all participants.
  • Triangular. Put one person behind a desk with two people seated in front of it, and you'll get authoritarian action from the person at the top.
  • Rectangular. If it's decision-making you need, place your people around a rectangular table – with the boss in the top spot.
  • Multiple. Placing people around a room in no defined pattern will bring sincere communication from participants.
  • Square. If you want to make your people feel secure and attached to your company, seat them in a square, which is even and solid.
This should make you think twice at your conference room before calling a meeting. It may also leave you feeling a little unsettled. Says Olmstead, "People tell me that they never look at the situation in the same way again."

© Copyright 2024, Carol Olmstead