Community, and Consensus

Community, and Consensus


Community And Consensus

A community uses consensus to make decisions. It is able to do this because of two factors:
  1. The group has gone through the community building process together which has bonded them, battle scars and all, into a cohesive, committed, connected group of people who know how to communicate well together.
  2. A community is a group of all leaders.  It respects and hears all opinions that want to be expressed, honoring each and every one.  It is not a place of power struggles. Since there is a sharing of the leadership, no one feels too timid to express their views.  Often, it is the one small voice that shares the wisdom that needs to be heard.


Consensus; “General Agreement”

It doesn’t mean that everyone is thrilled with the decision that the community reaches, only that everyone is willing to go along with it, after having a chance to share their thoughts, participating in the discussion, and giving the issue due consideration.


How Do You Do Consensus?

It depends on the size of your group and the age of the members.  For small children, consensus can be introduced as a game with a toy as a “talking stick”, and instructions to allow each person a turn to share uninterrupted while holding the stick.  The other children may and should ask questions of the person holding the stick to better understand what they are saying, but otherwise, they need to wait until it is their turn to hold the stick before sharing their opinion.  The”game” is not over until everyone is okay with the decision made by the group.

Surprisingly, very young children quickly grasp this “game” and use it to find harmony and to bond together.  A small group of adults can use this method too.

Other methods for doing consensus for more complicated issues abound.  Look here for an illustrated, detailed guide on consensus.  Here is another interesting page that talks about consensus.  It includes a 24-page PDF guide.  GOOGLE “How to reach a consensus” to locate many more fine resources.


The Best Time for Consensus

Consensus is best used after a group has evolved into a community.  Using it before this has happened will be much more difficult and perhaps could send the group into chaos.  Then the group will be sidetracked with the community building process which will have to take precedence over the solving of the issue you were addressing with consensus.  In other words, it will take a lot longer.

But it’s well worth the time it takes to evolve together into community.  In the long run, it saves time.  How can it be detrimental to a group to have mutual respect, shared leadership, camaraderie, authentic communication and an evolved level of communication?

Photo Credit: Michael Levine-Clark

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About The Author

I have always loved writing and community building. I’ve written a book about healing and happiness, The Happy Place, as well as a Community Building book, Sounding the Drum: Community Building in the Digital Age,both available at any Amazon store. I’ve been through life changes that I thought were the end of my world, but I’m still here. You never know what will happen next. Isn’t that what makes life interesting?