Three Hundred Eighteen: What Consensus Has Taught Me

“A consensus means that everyone agrees to say collectively what no one believes individually.”  – Abba Eban

Saturday, November 15th

Large decisions in the community that I live in are made collectively by consensus. It is a pain in the ass, but I feel that it is well worth it.

When I first moved here and was told about the consensus process, I recoiled. My experience with consensus was from my university days working at the campus newspaper. Our meetings often went on for four+ hours as we hammered out the details of tricky agenda items. “Roberts Rules” gave me an ill reaction thus forward.

Really, RR is an effective means of communicating thoroughly about an issue if not concisely. This is where I have learned the importance of effective leadership and having a breadth of experience with RR. Of course using RR to manage a meeting with an ever-changing group of students from year-to-year is going to be wrought with more difficulties than an established group of adults which has used this process for years.

Consensus processes encourages all to share their support just as it is meant to flesh out the inconsistencies, the counter-points and the objections to a proposal. What it does for me is that it highlights how any issue affects a diverse group differently. I always come away with a better understanding of an issue after consensus. And it simply feels good to know that everyone was given the chance to be at the table.

How would you react to decision-making by consensus?


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