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What Are Some Impediments to Consensus?


Lack of Training

It is necessary to train people in the theory and practice of Consensus. Until Consensus is common form of decision-making in our society, new participants will need some way of learning about the process. It is important to offer regular opportunities for training. If learning about Formal Consensus is not made easily accessible, it will limit full participation and create inequities which undermine this process. Also, training provides opportunities for people to improve their skills, particularly facilitation skills, in a setting where experimentation and role-plays can occur.

External Hierarchical Structures

It can be difficult for a group to reach Consensus internally when it is part of a larger group which does not recognize or participate in the Consensus process. It can be extremely frustrating if those external to the group can disrupt the decision-making by interfering with the process by pulling rank. therefore, it is desirable for individuals and groups to recognize that they can be autonomous in relation to external power if they are willing to take responsibility for their actions.

Social Prejudice

Everyone has been exposed to biases, assumptions, and prejudices which interfere with the spirit of cooperation and equal participation. All people are influenced by these attitudes, even though they may deplore them. People are not generally encouraged to confront these prejudices in themselves or others. Members of a group often reflect social biases without realizing or attempting to confront and change them. If the group views a prejudicial attitude as just one individual's problem, then the group will not address the underlying social attitudes which create such problems. It is appropriate to expose, confront, acknowledge, and attempt to resolve socially prejudicial attitudes, but only in the spirit of mutual respect and trust. Participants are responsible for acknowledging when their attitudes are influenced by disruptive social training and for changing them. When a supportive atmosphere for recognizing and changing undesirable attitudes exists, the group as a whole benefits.



Sources:On Conflict on Consensus 

Contributors: Amy Rothstein, C.T. Butler

Recommended Books: On Conflict on Consensus