How to Solve a Meeting Hijacking

Brain freeze clip art. Vector cartoon illustration with simple g


You are in a team meeting and everything seems to be progressing nicely, people are sharing solutions to the current challenge and are engaged. One person makes a suggestion and you or another team member states “that won’t work” with a bit of an exasperated sigh. The flow of the meeting and ideas suddenly screeches to a halt. An argument may erupt. What just happened?

The comment “that won’t work” with the accompanying body language was experienced as a rejection by the suggestion maker and their brain shot off hits of cortisol, the stress chemical. One of the highest human needs is belonging, so when individuals experience rejection they may also go into amygdala hijack.

This is when the brain goes into emergency response – sending a powerful message to the person to fight, flight, flee or freeze. In other words, their Neanderthal brain has just taken over, and survival is the only thing on the person’s mind. Yes, this may seem like an exaggeration, however, brain chemicals signal the body and the threat feels very real.

In Conversational Intelligence™ terms, in order to assist the individual through amygdala hijack (and we all experience it from time to time), they need to experience support and connection. If possible, take a short break and check in with the person. With a true sense of caring, ask them how they are doing.

And then listen to connect. This is unlike other listening techniques because you focus completely on what the other person is saying and feeling – with the intention to create an authentic connection with them, where they are at in the present moment. You need to let go of what happened in the meeting, offer true empathy and understanding. This will help lessen the “shelf life” of the cortisol (which can last up to 26 hours – during which time it impacts the brain’s ability to think and function) significantly by offering non-judgmental support and encouragement. Once the person recovers from the situation, they’ll be able to participate fully again.

If you are having frequent challenges like this in meetings, it’s time to connect with a Coach who understands Conversational Intelligence™ and who can help shift your team from a threatening experience to one of mutual support where inspired results will follow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>