Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When someone says hijacking a meeting, IMO it usually means that someone has made the meeting all about his/her agenda.

One time, I was invited to a meeting to talk about "ABC", but they only discussed ABC for the first 5 minutes, then they all switched to talking about something else. I was told we will discuss "ABC" which I prepared before I met with them, but from the start it appeared that they had no intention of talking about that. I also realized that the original agenda wasn't not what they were interested in discussing, so I guess word I am looking for is that I got bamboozled in the meeting or something?

I would always describe that to my boss/peers as "I got sideswiped in the meeting". I googled, and it's not used that way, so I guess somehow I made up that term and everyone understood what I meant anyway. Is there a term for this experience?

share|improve this question

migrated from workplace.stackexchange.com Jun 30 at 16:50

This question came from our site for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting.

1  
"The meeting got hijacked" is to the point and describes exactly what happened. "I got sideswiped" raises the question as to what happens - were you interrupted in the middle of a presentation and you had your presentation ripped apart? Did somebody throw you a sharp elbow about something you didn't know? Were you slaughtered because somebody took exception to something you said? What? Note that none of the questions raised by your statement "I got sideswiped"have anything to do with the meeting being hijacked. In fact, "I got sideswiped" leads your listener away from "the meeting got hijacked –  Vietnhi Phuvan Jun 30 at 15:35
    
In what way are you intending to speak/write about this? If you need not be especially polite, and you want to register your feedback as a complaint, then hijack can be appropriate. If you need to be more polite/diplomatic, you can say that the meeting was diverted from its agenda or the agenda was modified considerably. –  Drew Jun 30 at 17:48
    
In my experience when a meeting is "hijacked" it is typically by an individual person who is trying to push their agenda. If, as you say, everyone (or most everyone) in the meeting has the same motive I would suggest a different term. Perhaps the meeting "went down the wrong track" or "was lead astray" or "was improperly named". –  Joseph Neathawk Jun 30 at 18:15
    
Since you said "bamboozled" I want to mention "hoodwinked". –  fredsbend Jun 30 at 19:36
1  
First one that pops in my mind is to derail the meeting. The term is a little loose, but it can be used to imply the meeting topic has been deflected to something else, if not stopped entirely from being useful. –  Doc Jun 30 at 19:53

5 Answers 5

The phrase bait and switch is often used to describe a process in which an attractive product is offered to induce buyers, and once they engage with the salesperson, they are diverted to a different, more expensive product, usually being told that the original is not available or otherwise undesirable.

The term is also applied to politics and other dealings in which an innocuous proposal is deceptively introduced, only to be substantially changed (as was the original intention) to something much more controversial.

share|improve this answer

You could say that another meeting attendant co-opted your meeting:

We were supposed to talk about the new project's budget, but then Bob co-opted the meeting to rant about support issues with our main vendor.

The second defintion is:

to use or take control of (something) for your own purposes

Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/co-opt

Another phrase you could use, which I've heard more than a few times, is going off the rails, as in:

Our meeting was going well until Bob sent it off the rails by spending the next hour complaing about support issues.

You could also use the word dominated, as in:

Steve tried to run a meeting about the budget, but Bob dominated the meeting by constantly discussing support issues.

share|improve this answer

There is an American expression "Going down a rat hole" which details what you are trying to say.

Many years ago I sat in on a meeting in the US where they solved this issue with a plastic rat. They would throw the rat at the person who was causing the meeting to go off at a tangent.

But this was more acceptable to their business culture. I'd be surprised if it worked elsewhere.

share|improve this answer

If you don't like the word hijacked itself, there is 'going off at a tangent'.

Although, in common usage, that doesn't necessarily mean a deliberate change of agenda. It is often used to indicate that the meeting wasn't chaired effectively. It has already been mentioned in another answer.

share|improve this answer

You might say the meting was co-opted, from the verb co-opt, “To commandeer, appropriate or take over”, or that there was a hidden agenda.

If the falsely-advertised meeting was aimed at you specifically, you could say you were shanghaied (commandeered; appropriated; hijacked) or press-ganged or kidnapped.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.