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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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2 responses to “Don’t ask for preliminary views on a decision at the start of a meeting”

  1. This is SOP for any manager. If you want honest opinion and input, don’t tip your hand, speak last, and work extra hard to draw out those who are normally reticent in meetings for whatever reason, even going so far as to solicit their initial thoughts in advance.
    On the other hand, if you’re looking to ram your own pre-made decision through, by all means “have the meeting before the meeting” and then arrange for those favoring your view to state their opinions first.

  2. air max says:

    This is what precisely I’m talking about. That is a very good observation and a great line of thought.