Groupthink is a disturbing phenomenon that occurs most frequently when the need for group consensus overrides individuals’ common sense ability to offer solutions, critique an idea, or express an inconvenient opinion. This occurs most frequently in the workplace, as individuals are pressured to toe the line politically, socially, and economically. Groupthink can also occur in relationships between spouses, friends, and other acquaintances. Groupthink sometimes breaks down communication channels and leads to hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and even personal and professional failures. So, which of these strategies would effectively prevent groupthink from occurring?

The first strategy to prevent groupthink is for individuals to clearly communicate their dissent and ideas to the group

For instance, if one member of a small team wants to suggest a change in a major business policy, it may be wise to suggest that the entire group consider supporting the change, rather than silently disdaining. If there is some initial support for the idea, it can help defuse the groupthink pressure.

Groups often have the need to be “united,” but it is not uncommon for some members to not think the same things. Perhaps different perspectives were brought to the group, causing a divergence of opinions. When this occurs, members must openly discuss the different perspectives. If one member can point out a flaw in the logic, it will help to bring another perspective into the discussion. It is unfortunate when a groupthink mentality is allowed to take over, wherein one group is convinced of something simply because they are in the majority. It is important not to allow this to happen.

When groupthink takes place within a decision-making process, individuals are not held accountable for the decisions made

Sometimes, the only things noticed are the decisions that the group did not like. The soldiers who made these poorly-thought out decisions did not realize how their actions negatively affected the lives of others.

A successful manager must have the ability to use proper decision making techniques to get groupthink to work for him or her. Effective decision making involves getting people to work together in a positive and cohesive environment. Sometimes, leaders can create an atmosphere of groupthink within their teams by empowering the members to talk about issues, concerns, and problems. Sometimes it is the members themselves that initiate conversation, and other times the leader may encourage them to talk.

Leaders who are effective at getting groupthink to work within their groups should understand that groupthink will not make any decisions

In fact, it will most likely inhibit any type of leadership. If a groupthink atmosphere is developed within an organization, there will not be any leadership because no one will be trusted to make any decisions. The groupthinkers will simply engage in self voting, with no one there to make those decisions for them. This means that any group decisions made will be poor ones and ineffective at best.

One way to encourage the formation of cohesive groupthink is to make sure that each team member feels like he or she is really a valuable part of the group, and that his or her thoughts and opinion are considered. Sometimes a team will have to discuss a problem, and a soldier may offer a unique perspective on the problem. If this soldier is included in the discussion, it shows the group that there are people who are willing to listen and think outside of the “group.” This can create some powerful groupthink statements among the members.

While groupthink can be effective when a leader is trying to effect change, this psychological phenomenon has nothing to do with it

When the groupthinkers are not part of the decision-making process, the group is more likely to accept the status quo, or worse, make poor choices based on their own feelings rather than what the group thinkers have to say. In order for a group to create good decisions, the group needs to have an honest and open dialogue about the issues at hand. The members must also be encouraged to express their opinions, so that they can be taken seriously and considered. Sometimes a leader has to step in and make a personal investment in the group’s success, and then he or she has to work closely with the group to ensure that it stays together. This is the best way to create groupthink that works.

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