When you have to have a meeting, give some serious thought to the layout of the meeting space.
Too often, we meet in a conference room. If there are two groups, one group sits on one side and the other group sits on the other side. Right away, we have an adversarial situation (us vs them) with protection in between (the table). If you have two groups in a conference room, find a way to have people from the different groups on the same side of the table. If it means you positioning yourself on the side across from the rest of your group, go ahead and do it. Figure out how to create more of a “we” environment rather than an “us vs them” environment (unless there is a reason you want to create an adversarial situation).
If it’s just you and another person, try to position yourself so there isn’t a barrier between you. See if there is a sitting area without a table in between the seats, or if a table is necessary, see if you can use a low coffee table as opposed to a big table. This will create an easier environment to work together.
If you are meeting in an office, try not to have one person sitting behind their desk. The desk creates a barrier to communication plus it establishes a hierarchy for the meeting. There are times you will want to create that type of a hierarchy but more often then not, it hurts the objective of the meeting.
Some people like to meet over meals but it’s important to understand that others don’t. In my case, I would rather eat with friends and meet in offices. To me, the lack of privacy in restaurants makes any type of meeting over a meal somewhat useless.
Many people arrange for meetings without giving much thought to location or the set up. They would do better to take the time to maximize the effectiveness of the meeting space when possible.
Have a great day!