A field guide to the Meeting Troll
The meeting troll is a common creature, one that morphs over time and is good at hiding (snaring you when it’s too late to avoid him.)
- The meeting troll has a neverending list of reasonable objections. It’s the length of the list that makes the objections unreasonable.
- The meeting troll never says ‘we’. It’s all about ‘you.’
- The meeting troll doesn’t actually want you to fail, but is establishing a trail so that if you do, he’s off the hook.
- Despite his protestations about how much he hates meetings, the meeting troll actually thrives on them, because, after all, this is the only place he gets to do his best work. The very best way to extinguish the meeting troll is to extinguish meetings. The second best way is to not invite him.
- A key giveway: The meeting troll will use the phrase, “devil’s advocate.” More than once.
- Growth hackers look for a yes at every turn. The meeting troll thinks his job is to find the no.
- The meeting troll never eagerly calls a project meeting, nor does he bring refreshments, volunteer to organize follow up or encourage others to push their ideas even further. He’s eager, though, to host the post mortem.
- One particularly noxious type of meeting troll says not a thing at the meeting. He uses body language and eye rolling to great advantage, though, and you can be sure that there will be quiet one-on-one undermining going on as soon as the meeting is over. The modern evolution of this is the instant messaging of snide remarks during the meeting.
- The meeting troll has a perfect memory for previous failures and complete amnesia when it comes to things that have worked.
- Analogies, particularly to vivid flameouts (regardless of how rare or irrelevant) is the easy tool for the amateur troll. He’s also good at equating your desire to deal with negative change with the assertion that you somehow caused or were in favor of that negative change.
- Open-ended questions that merely hint at failure are sufficient for the experienced troll. He knows that he doesn’t have to kill the new project for it to die. He just has to stir up sufficient unease.
- The meeting troll is afraid, not merely evil. Change is a threat, and trolling is his well-intentioned but erroneous response to the threat of change.