The abilene paradox was recently called to my attention. “In the Abilene paradox, a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of many or all of the individuals in the group. It involves a common breakdown of group communication in which each member mistakenly believes that their own preferences are counter to the group’s and, therefore, does not raise objections, or even states support for an outcome they do not want. A common phrase relating to the Abilene paradox is a desire to not “rock the boat”.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abilene_paradox
“The term was introduced by management expert Jerry B. Harvey in his 1974 article “The Abilene Paradox: The Management of Agreement”.The name of the phenomenon comes from an anecdote that Harvey uses in the article to elucidate the paradox:
On a hot afternoon visiting in Coleman, Texas, the family is comfortably playing dominoes on a porch, until the father-in-law suggests that they take a 50-mile trip to Abilene for dinner. The wife says, “Sounds like a great idea.” The husband, despite having reservations because the drive is long and hot, thinks that his preferences must be out-of-step with the group and says, “Sounds good to me. I just hope your mother wants to go.” The mother-in-law then says, “Of course I want to go. I haven’t been to Abilene in a long time.”
The drive is hot, dusty, and long. When they arrive at the cafeteria, the food is as bad as the drive. They arrive back home four hours later, exhausted.
One of them dishonestly says, “It was a great trip, wasn’t it?” The mother-in-law says that, actually, she would rather have stayed home, but went along since the other three were so enthusiastic. The husband says, “I wasn’t delighted to be doing what we were doing. I only went to satisfy the rest of you.” The wife says, “I just went along to keep you happy. I would have had to be crazy to want to go out in the heat like that.” The father-in-law then says that he only suggested it because he thought the others might be bored.
The group sits back, perplexed that they together decided to take a trip which none of them wanted. They each would have preferred to sit comfortably, but did not admit to it when they still had time to enjoy the afternoon.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abilene_paradox
I have seen this happen occasionally in mediation when a couple agrees to something neither wants because they think the other person wants it. It is important that a person says what they want and why.
Learn more about mediation at https://www.center-divorce-mediation.com CDM (398) 10/15/22