In the companies, it is sometimes a norm that some activities (most often meetings or training) are mandatory. In this article, I explain why I find this practice offensive and why I will never be the order follower and attend such activity ever again.
The reason behind the mandatory meeting obviously is, that the organizer REALLY wants everyone to participate. Mostly the intentions are good. The organizer really believes that this activity is important and useful or simply needed. The organizer also (mostly rightfully) fears that this view may not be shared among participants and from the position of power, he or she very often takes the simplest path to "solve" this problem. The mandatory meeting is born.
For me, the only things that I must do are those I agreed with (i.e. I am bound by contract or promise).
There are also things that I have to do because I am coerced (by force) to do (e.g. paying taxes). I see those as highly immoral, but (currently) impossible to avoid and it would be a subject for another article.
All other things are optional for me. And I do them only if I want to.
As the organizer has this urge to have all the people on the meeting, and is in the position of power, he or she may decide to go for a mandatory meeting for those reasons:
The organizer does not see the participant competent to make the decision about their attendance.
→ This means the organizer does not see me as an equal partner, but as a subordinate subject to be ruled.
The organizer does not have or does not want to invest time to explain and persuade the participants about
the importance of the meeting.
→ This means the organizer does not see me as an important person or does not have my trust or has a lack of skills to express the urgency of the subject.
The organizer wants to prevent being successfully challenged about the need or importance of the meeting.
→ This means the organizer is an egoist driven by fear.
Of course, if you are an employee in the classical hierarchical structure then you are not an equal partner, you are the subordinate subject to be ruled (bound by employee contract) and you may not be allowed to challenge your superiors. But this is not my case, I do not participate in such relationships and I believe I never will.
All my relationships are symmetric and I do my best to treat my counterparts in them as partners. And I expect the same from the others. In an equivalent relationship, this behavior of "mandatory meetings" is very offensive and disrespectful. Just imagine organizing mandatory activities for your boyfriend or girlfriend.
That's why I will never attend such an activity ever again.
As an organizer, you may feel really desperate in a situation like this. You may feel that it is crucial for the company (or collective) because of some objective reasons.
But still, the possibility to say "no" is absolutely necessary for the symmetric relationship to exist. And as a partner in such a relationship you need to respect (to keep the relationship symmetric), that there are services I may not offer, and therefore find another solution to your problem.