Meeting Villains: How to Tell if Someone is a Hijacker.

Previously we introduced you to the Meeting Villains, this is the first installment in that series: The Meeting Hijacker.

The Hijacking

You didn’t suspect that he would turn out to be a Hijacker.

It was your first meeting with him.  He looked pretty clean cut… dressed like any other businessman… with his Brooks Brother shirt, cornflower blue tie, snazzy cufflinks… nothing to make you suspicious.
But then all of the sudden… BAAM!!  Your Meeting has been HIJACKED.

You are stunned for the first few minutes, your head is reeling and you can’t figure out how he did it.  The other attendees in the room scornfully look at you for inviting the one person who could derail one of the most important meetings of the month.

The Culprit

You are not totally to blame…  A meeting hijacker can easily blend in as anyone in your organization (not just a Gordon Gecko type with a hidden agenda the size of Santa Claus’ naughty list).

To help you quickly identify a hijacker, look for these attributes: 

  • Shows up late to a meeting without knowing what the meeting is about… after you included the agenda in the invite and your follow-up email. 
  • Brings up side topics that are unrelated to the goals of the meeting. 
  • Says things such as:  “We need to discuss __XYZ__ which is really more important than everything you have on the agenda”
  • Interjects the discussion with urgent hot-button low priority issues by saying “we need to talk about this eventually”…  and then will continue to talk about those issues. 

How to Protect Yourself.

Keep an eye out for the behaviors above.   If you see something, SAY SOMETHING.

The only way to halt a hijacking is to stop it as soon as it starts…  if you let it proceed, it will snowball into an avalanche of useless side discussion.

The following are the three tricks to stop a hijacking in progress:

#1 Have a Planned Agenda sent out prior to the meeting –  REMEMBER: It will be nearly impossible to prevent a hijacking if you don’t send out an agenda.   In your invite, be sure to include the text “Please review the agenda below and let me know if you have any updates or additions”

#2 Put Off-Topic Items Into a “Parking Lot” – If someone tries to hijack the meeting, point out that what they are bringing up “was not on the agenda you sent out last week” and ask if we can add it to the parking lot to address at the end of the meeting (time permitting) or a follow-up meeting.

#3 Keep Track of Time in the Meeting – If people in the meeting are aware that their precious 22 minutes of meeting time is quickly melting into oblivion, they are much less likely to protest adding an off-topic item to the parking lot.

You are now armed with the weapons to protect your meetings from Hijackers.    If you see something, SAY SOMETHING.  Remember: the safety of meetings is up to you.

 Photo from Flickr user istolethetv

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