There is a specific atmosphere needed in order for Consensus to be effective. The Transition is often asked When Can You Use Consensus?
- It is important that there be an atmosphere in which people's intelligence and thinking are affirmed. Group members must be confident that they will be heard and their ideas respected.
- There should be the willingness to bring out, listen to, and deal with hidden feelings that are affecting people's willingness or ability to hear ideas and make decisions.
- For a group to use consensus successfully, it must understand the necessity of surfacing and sensitively dealing with grudges and conflicts that are affecting the group.
- For a group to operate at its full potential and make its best decisions, power relationships must be continuously pointed out and examined carefully. It is no longer appropriate for decisions to be influenced by people simply because they are older, stronger, more wealthy, male, or louder.
- It is necessary to have the expectation that the best decisions reflect the thinking and agreement of all members.
Now you might be thinking... "But My Group Doesn't Have That Atmosphere!"
Obviously, if you delay until your group reaches perfection in any or all of these points, you may have a bit of a wait! That's not what is meant. Look at your group: do you see it moving toward the kind of atmosphere stated here? If so, you are probably close to or ready to try Consensus. If not, perhaps this will point out to you those ways in which you can start building the kind of community within your group that will help your decision-making.
Sources: Building Social Change Communities
Contributors: Susanne Terry, The Training/Action Affinity Group of Movement for a New Society
Recommended Reading: Building Social Change Communities