Friendly Consensus: Speak,
Chapter 1: Expressing Beliefs
Consensus is a way to make
decisions without voting. The group works together to agree on the best decision
that everyone can support.
It is general agreement, mutual understanding,
and a meeting of the minds.
Consensus is a coming together of the sense
of the group.
- It allows you to be open and honest
with the people with whom you make any kind of decision. This can include your
family, your friends, your classmates, or the people at work.
- Consensus helps you to get along with
- Groups that make decisions by consensus
are committed to their plans and do a better job of making them happen. Use it
when there's a problem, question or task that needs everyone's full
- Consensus helps everyone be more
respectful and understanding toward others.
- It serves the needs of the individual
as well as the group.
- Consensus helps people reach the truth
and make good, sound decisions.
- It works. Traditional cultures in
Africa and the Americas have successfully used consensus. Today Quakers
continue their centuries-old practice of making decisions by consensus in
their meetings, schools, colleges, and services organizations. In addition, an
increasing number of businesses and organizations have begun to use
How To Use
Just like basketball, Monopoly or driving
a car, Friendly Consensus has rules that everyone must follow. The following six
"rules" make Friendly Consensus work.
- Express your beliefs and ideas
clearly and honestly. Believe that you have just as much right to express
yourself as everyone else. Remain confident and stand behind your ideas. You
might just be the one that comes up with the idea that everyone likes.
- Encourage others to express their
ideas. Listen with respect to each person's perspective or opinion even
though it may be different from yours. Everyone is allowed to have a different
opinion. If everyone thought and acted the same, no new inventions or ideas
would be developed.
- Listen carefully to all ideas.
Sometimes the best ideas come from the quietest person. Separate the person
from what they say — it is important not to put down an idea just because of
the source. Allow a time of silence between speakers to reflect on the
- Work with your team and team leader
for the best solution. While it is always important to stand behind your
ideas, it is also important to realize that everyone is working together to
reach the best decision for the group. Even though your idea or opinion may be
valid, it may not be something that will benefit the group. You should ask
yourself: Are my thoughts important to the group process? Has someone already
voiced them? How can I say them concisely?
- Summarize accurately what you
hear. Always keep in mind that there will be a solution to the problem or
question that you and your group are discussing. With perseverance, the
solution that is best for the group will come.
- Work creatively to deal with
conflict. Be committed to keeping the tension level among group members to
a minimum. If everyone practices the first five "rules," everyone will be able
to better deal with conflicts as they arise.
What Happens When Someone
Doesn't Go by the "Rules"?
As you already know, Friendly Consensus is
a process that is designed to bring people together and to aid in the creation
of solutions that appeal to all members of the group. However, there are times
when conflict arises and people become very unhappy and sometimes even unwilling
to remain with the group anymore. Avoiding this type of conflict is important
for all who are in the group. Here are a few things that members can do to keep
the group running smoothly.
Be sure to
be an "active listener." This means that everyone should listen to the key
points. Be respectful to those who are speaking. Side conversations can be very
distracting and may make those people who are addressing the group feel
self-conscious and unwilling to talk again. Try making a note of your thoughts
instead of telling them to your neighbor. Also, waving your hand to speak next
Give time and silence or a "time-out" between each
speaker. This allows everyone a chance to think about what was just said. People
who disagreed with the point need this time-out to reflect on what has been
said. They may decide that it is not necessary to challenge the point after they
have thought about it.
A Quick Summary of Consensus
- Go for
- Pull together on a
Banner of Personal
Instructions: Work on your own to create a
personal banner that you can use to tell others about your values, strengths,
goals and motto.
- Create four pictures, symbols or words
that represent your most important values or beliefs.
- Show in words or pictures three things
you do well and consider to be your strengths.
- Display three goals you
- Write a personal motto by which you try
- How can I put my personal motto into
practice? What can I do today to act on my values?
- When I express my beliefs honestly to
others, I . . .
Copyright © Earlham Press -
Used by permission