Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meeting Hijackers

It was supposed to be just an autism specialist, a behavior specialist, and me, brainstorming. We planned to meet, discuss options, and then we would gather data to share with the rest of the team.

Somewhere, there was a breakdown of communication. It happens. Everybody who even knew the first name of the child showed up. Standing room only. We all hunkered down to do some heavy problem solving, knowing that too many chefs spoil the souffle'.

Then a not-so-funny thing happened. Reason #437 why I hate meetings.

The instructional aide, who showed up uninvited, began cutting people off in mid-conversation. She would interrupt others before they had even finished a sentence to add her two-cents. Consequently, her two-cents ended up being about a buck-fifty. The rest of us sat in stunned silence.

The meeting had been hijacked.

This happens to me at least once a week. Somebody always tries to monopolize the time, no matter how dedicated we all are to finishing fast. It gets people off track and the entire purpose of the meeting goes right out the window, sacrificed to someone's ego.

If what she was saying had been insightful or helpful, maybe she would have been forgiven for her blatant monopolizing of the meeting. This woman appeared to have no grasp of what we were trying to accomplish; she seemed to be only concerned about appearing to be smarter than the rest of us. It was as if she thought that if she could talk enough, we would see her intelligence shining like a beacon.

Instead, I imagined slapping her upside the head repeatedly. That was fun, of course. But not really productive. Just fun.

I waited for the autism specialist to step in. She was the one who had called the meeting, and I was trying to be polite. Finally I couldn't stand it anymore.

I'm not a negotiator in these sorts of situations. I don't have the patience to gently steer things back in the right direction. I am a "let's get to the point so I can go" person. I'm more like a one-person SWAT team for the meeting-impaired; I tend to just break the door down and toss in tear gas. I am hardcore, especially if I am missing lunch.

I cut the hijacker off. In the middle of a sentence. I even used dismissive body language; I waved her off. The double whammy. The meeting hijacker was not happy. I didn't care. I summed up the meeting in two sentences, indicated who was going to be responsible for data collection, and stood up. Everyone filed out of the room. A couple of grateful looks were directed at me as the room cleared extremely fast.

I decided right then and there that if I ever got to be Queen of the Universe, anyone convicted of hijacking meetings would have hot bamboo shoots inserted under their fingernails. Either that, or they would have to re-enact that scene from An Officer and a Gentlemen, where Richard Gere is running in place while Lou Gossett, Jr. has the hose on him.

What do you think? Do you guys hate meetings as much as I do?


  1. Meetings like that? Absolutely hate! I was on a team once when I was working that. Included a woman who not only hijacked the meeting to show her infinite knowledge, but also found a topic to expand on every week that allowed her to turn on the water works! Touching in November maybe? Very. Old by May though! Good for you for ending everyne's unproductive misery!

  2. OMG THAT WOMAN IS MY MOTHER!!!! I grew up with that! Somebody had to put an end to it, glad you shut her up. :) And no, they never DO like the dismissive body language. I'm probably still grounded from walking away from her tirades.

  3. "like a one-person SWAT team for the meeting-impaired"

    ME TOO!!!! OMG I hated meetings at our prior school. They'd get SO off track and start talking about what Tommy did or said last week that was so funny. We had monthly "staffings" and then of course the yearly IEP's. It got to the point where I'd make people leave before ever getting the meeting started. The school's director wasn't allowed at staffings (simply because I couldn't stand her and she'd end up making ME mad which was incredibly nonproductive!) The school was 48 miles away, and I really didn't want to have to drive home in the 5 o'clock rush. Yeah.. i don't handle "unproductive" ANYTHING very well. Good for you for taking control!

  4. If I hold her, you can slap her. Gawd, she sounds like a nightmare. Nothing would give me greater pleasure that putting a person like that in place. And you did it with the efficiency of a skilled marksman. I'm afraid and impressed all at the same time.

  5. Oh yeah! Oh yeah! I finally get to give you an award! Stop by and grab your Sunshine!

  6. I hate to disparage my own gender, but I swear this is a gender thing. And you and I must both be part dude.

    I have never been in any type of meeting where a guy will blather on aimlessly. The ladies, however, do this ALL THE TIME. Usually there is one chick going on and on about nothing, all the other chicks are just waiting for her to finish so they can chime in with their worthless verbage, and the lone guy at the table and I are squirming impatiently and losing the will to live.


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