Six types of destructive behaviors in meeting and one way to rectify it

If you are part of corporate life, you already know meetings are inseparable from corporate life. During a typical day, you attend both formal and informal meetings, and as per the HBR study, 71% of people said meetings are unproductive or inefficient.

If you are working in an Agile world, you may have replaced meetings with ceremonies. Irrespective of its name, meeting with multiple people need good facilitation, a clear objective, and focused discussion.

People play an essential part in the meeting; I bet you may have never attended a meeting without people 😉. Participation, exchange of information, ideas are crucial to have better meetings to meet the desired objective.

Knowingly or unknowingly, meeting participants fall prey to certain behavior traits, affecting meeting outcomes and making them inefficient, resulting in people complaining about unproductive time wasted in meetings.

Below are six types of lousy behavior observed in meetings.


Hijackers want to use meeting time to fulfill their ego personal interests. They try to take control of the discussion do not let others speak, resulting in minimal participation from other members.

They are motivated by their own needs, and in the absence of a strong facilitator, they run loose in meetings, making it one-way traffic.

Busy Bee

Busy bees are opposite to hijackers, while they are physically or virtually present in meetings. They want to cut down all the discussions and keep doing their work.

They believe that meetings are a waste of time, and in the absence of a clear personal benefit objective, they will try to cut down all discussions and move on.


Ghosts are a slight variation of busy bees. They would refuse to participate in discussions, as they see nothing valuable coming out of the meeting. They may be introverted or shy to say anything and see the meeting as an opportunity to take a break from work.

Dr. House

These are arrogant and sarcastic members who try to make fun of others in meetings. They make loose comments, and when highlighted, they may say, "I am just joking."

These people will discourage others from participating by making fun of them and feel good when people laugh at their comments.


These are the members who take meetings away from its agenda. They start talking about irrelevant stories, engage in lengthy discussions, and wander away in their version of the meeting.


These are dangerous to have in meeting with expected outcomes. They refuse everything for no apparent reason, make fun of other ideas even when they don't have their own, and shy away from accepting any action item.

How to overcome such destructive behaviors in meetings

As a meeting facilitator, you do everything as per plans, such as setting up a clear objective and suitable activity for a summit; still, it is hard to focus on purpose and outcome if you encounter such behavior.

So what can you do about it?

Show the mirror is a technique to help people quickly realize if they are falling into any bad behavior and rectify their participation in discussion.

This is how it works.

  1. Assume good intention — People may not necessarily have a bad intention. If they are involved in the discussion or can't connect with the topic, they may fall into their behavioral traits without even realizing it. Always assume good intentions from participants so that you do not show any biases.
  2. Show the mirror — Create different bad behavior cards and show them if participants show one of the bad behavior to help them realize how others perceive them at this moment. (Link to bad behavior cards is at the end of the post, you may print it for use)
  3. Pause the flow- Showing the card will pause their behavior flow in the discussion.
  4. Let them reflect and rectify- Do not say anything and let them introspect
  5. Keep it fun

People change their behavior once they know how they are coming out in front of others.

Let's show the mirror to help them self aware and improve.

Link for show the mirror cards.

Please share if you observed any other behavior and how this worked for you.

(Note: These I read in a book a few years back. Could not recall the book name to give credit. Please comment if you know which book it was)




Product Developer | Agilist | Coach | Learner | I write about Product development, leadership and innovation

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Prakash Inani

Prakash Inani

Product Developer | Agilist | Coach | Learner | I write about Product development, leadership and innovation

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