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Consensus Guidelines

Consensus is a way of working together as a group to reach a decision/solution with which everyone is comfortable. It is an informal discussion involving talking things through, understanding what other people are saying and feeling, and then trying to work out decisions which are acceptable to everyone. Everyone must be a part of the decision and be satisfied with it. When a decision is reached, the group shapes it and puts it into words which everyone understands. Everyone agrees, unlike the concept of majority rules where many people can leave a decision-making process feeling unhappy.

Here are some helpful things to know about consensus:

Consensus may take longer than a voting process because everyone must be part of, understand and agree with the decision that is being made.

Trying to come up with solutions that the whole group can accept.

Understanding the needs, feeling and ideas of everyone is important.

Bringing out disagreement and seeing the value and truth in what everyone says.

Coming up with new ideas.

Recognizing that everyone has rights whether they agree with us or not.


Assessment and Follow-up Discussion:

1. Were you able to reach consensus? What helped or hurt your reaching one? In what ways did you like using consensus, rather than a vote to try to reach this decision? In what ways did you dislike it?

2. What satisfied you about working towards consensus? What frustrated you?

3. Why is consensus a useful idea to know about?

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