Often when I meet with a group of my closest friends, the discussion goes something like this: “Where do you want to go?” “Not sure.” “Where do you want to go?” “Not sure.” Etc. These discussions are frustrating and waste time. Any advice on how to move them forward and get to a decision faster?
When someone asks “What do you want to do tonight?” what they often are saying implicitly is: “What is the most exciting thing we can do tonight, given all the options and all the people involved?”
The problem is that figuring out the best solution is very difficult. First, we need to bring to mind all the alternatives, next our preferences and the preferences of the people in the group. Then we have to find the one activity that will maximize this set of constraints and preferences.
The basic problem here is that, in your search for the optimal activity, you are not taking the cost of time into account, so you waste your precious time asking “What do you want to do?”—which is probably the worst way to spend your time.
To overcome this problem, I would set up a rule that limits the amount of time that you are allowed to spend searching for a solution, and I would set up a default in case you fail to come up with a better option. For example, take a common good activity (going to drink at X, playing basketball at Y) and announce to your friends that, unless someone else comes up with a better alternative, in 10 minutes you are all heading out to X (or Y).
I would also set up a timer on your phone to make it clear that you mean business and to make sure that the time limit is kept. Once the buzzer sounds, just start heading out to X (or Y), asking who wants to come with you and telling everyone else that you will meet them there. After doing this a few times, your friends will get used to it and perhaps bring an end to this wasteful habit.