Don’t ask for preliminary views on a decision at the start of a meeting

At the start of many meetings meant to reach a decision, researchers have found, the attendees begin by disclosing their pre-meeting inclinations. That common practice – a straw vote, so to speak – has bad consequences. According to findings summarized in strategy + bus., Issue 60 at 160, the attendees are more likely to ignore information that others produce thereafter. Once they have voiced an opinion, even if it is tentative and ill-informed, people tend to stick stubbornly to that view.

The lesson for legal departments is to have people stifle the urge to speak too quickly about the conclusion they might favor. Discuss pros and cons and alternatives, but hold their opinions until the end of the meeting. Ranking lawyers, especially, should hold their tongues early on.

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