In building community, invariably issues come up. Some are simple and easy to manage. Others are more difficult. How do we handle these issues as a community?
In order to really understand an issue, we need to be able to look at it from all sides. And since no single person has all the information, we need to hear from everyone.
Each of us has a different way of looking at things. Some of us see vistas. Some of us see details. Some of us look at the practical side of things. Some of us seek deeper spiritual meanings.
All of these views are important and necessary if we’re going to get to the truth of an issue.
They must then proceed with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care and moderation to express their views. ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Consultation provides the means to discuss a matter thoroughly. The goal is to do so in such a way that does not create discord or ill-will:
Each person is completely free to express his or her thoughts and opinions. No one belittles the thoughts of another.
If someone expresses an opposing view, one must not feel hurt.
Each person listens carefully to all views, whether they agree with them or not.
It is only when the matter is thoroughly examined and all views are expressed that the truth will be revealed and the right course of action made clear.
Many times I get caught up in the clamor of my own thinking and I want to rush to share my opinion on a subject. Or I hold back, thinking my view is not important, not popular or contradicts what has been said already. I remain silent because I don’t want to cause difficulties.
But then I realize that each view is important, not because it is the truth, but because without all the views, we can’t arrive at the truth. We each have a piece of the puzzle and if we go to either extreme, it’s not helpful:
If we insist on our own view, we create a blockage.
If we withhold our view, we create a hole.
At first I just voice my opinion. But as I grow quiet inside and seek stillness, as I listen to what others are saying, I start to see more deeply. This is the place where insight comes from. As I quiet my inner chatter even more, I start to see what is emerging. And the deeper I listen, the more richness there is to observe and share.
The whole point of consultation is to get to the truth of the matter. There are different levels of understanding as we move from the surface to the heart level. We go from rattling off our opinions, to really thinking about an issue and analyzing it, to connecting deeply around the heart of the matter. In all of this, we each still only see a part of the puzzle. But as we share what we are observing, together we form a more complete picture. As an example, check out Letting Go of My Opinion.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need. ~ John Heider, Tao of Leadership
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.