3 Ways to Encourage More Honesty in Meetings

Group members constantly say “Yes” when their body language screams “No.”

When you lead meetings, you can do some things that will help participants come clean with their real opinions. If you aren’t leading and notice this body language, jump in and help out.

Ask each person for an opinion

It may be that people are holding back because that is the easiest thing to do. You can prevent this by asking each person for an opinion. If the group is not too large, simply go around the table and ask each person if he/she supports the idea and why or why not.

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If you know someone rarely speaks up, you might want to put your inquiry in the form of an open-ended question. It makes it tougher the person to go with the one-word response.

Force a contrary opinion

If you use the first suggestion and many of the first people you call on voice support for the idea, it makes it more difficult for the following speakers to share their opposition. They might be afraid of looking like naysayers.

In this case, invite the group to think about reasons why they should reject the idea. Make it cool to be a naysayer. At least you will now have both arguments on the table for discussion.

Ask for an owner

Tossing out ideas is relatively easy. It is much more difficult to make something happen.

When the group agrees to do something, make your next question about who will take ownership to see that it happen. If nobody steps up, there might be less support for the idea than previously thought. You can let it drop.

Draw them out

Honesty in group discussions is critical to success. It’s also difficult to achieve. You’ll need to work at it.

I’m curious if you have any other ideas that you think would work. Share them in the comments.

By Tom LaForce

Tom LaForce helps companies change by creating stronger teams, more effective leaders, and better processes. To discuss a challenge you're facing, use this link to schedule a free discovery call.