Now, more than ever, we humans are finding ourselves facing complex problems that no single person can solve. We’re increasingly being called upon to collaborate in groups of greater and greater diversity. We’re having to learn by doing; our old answers no longer work. We need a way to function effectively in groups so we can learn creatively and work together to find solutions to the interconnected issues we face.
One of the most powerful tools for building community is consultation. It’s a process of group decision-making that seeks out the truth of an issue and strives to find the best possible solution. It provides a means for a group to fully understand the matter at hand, come to a consensus about it and decide on a course of action. It’s a valuable tool that can be used in any group, from families and work teams to community organizations and school projects.
Say: no man can attain his true station except through his justice. No power can exist except through unity. No welfare and well-being can be attained except through consultation. ~ Bahá'u'lláh
How Does Consultation Work?
The concepts of consultation are simple:
Listen carefully: You never know who will come up with the next gem of wisdom.
Express your view: When grappling with an issue, each participant must be free to fully express his or her view.
Let it go: Once you’ve stated your view, let go of it completely. Now the view belongs to the group.
Seek truth: The group then explores all the different views (sorting, sifting, combining, evaluating) to arrive at the truth of the matter.
Support the decision: Once the group makes a decision, everyone supports it, whether they agree or not. If the decision is wrong, it will quickly become apparent and a new decision can be made.
Implementing consultation takes practice. And there’s a lot we can learn from each other. We’ll be sharing stories on this blog that illustrate how this approach helps groups work together better. Here's one to get started: Vacation Plans – Community Building in the Family. We’d love to hear your insights and stories as well. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or send us an email.
Assemble, speak together: let your minds be all of one accord… United be the thoughts of all that all may happily agree. ~ Vedas, Rig Veda - Book 10
Learn more about consultation
Consultation is a form of collective decision making that gathers diverse viewpoints in order to chart a wise course of action. It allows a group to look at a problem from all sides and build consensus on the best solution for all involved.