A Safe Way to Cut People Off in Meetings

jellyfish Leadership Tip of Week

adapted from HBR

When meeting participants veer off topic, critical agenda items suffer. But even when leaders or peers intervene, it’s often too late, and the typical approach (“This is really interesting, but can I suggest we get back to the topic at hand?”) leaves everyone feeling awkward.

Thankfully, there is a simple solution to this predicament: the word “jellyfish.” Jellyfish are, of course, those funny-looking creatures that have drifted along on ocean currents for millions of years.

Use the word to prevent drifting in meetings by introducing the jellyfish rule: If any attendee feels the conversation is heading off course or delving into an inappropriate level of detail, they simply say “jellyfish” or “I think we’re having a jellyfish moment.”

It’s a safe, effective, accessible catchall for “Why don’t you take this offline — the rest of us would like our meeting back.”

Adapted from “The Right Way to Cut People Off in Meetings,” by Bob Frisch and Cary Greene

Author: Andrew Mann

Managing Partner at NorthBailey. Having had senior marketing & insight roles at Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Coop and M&S, I'm now using my experience & network to solve strategic marketing problems for NorthBailey clients

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