Consensus Reaching

Consensus is where every individual member of a group fully accepts the group’s conclusion for the collective benefit of the group, and is fully committed to supporting it. People are willing to do this, even where the choice is not their individually preferred option, where they feel they have been fully listened to and understood, and where adopting the majority perspective is the fairest and most expedient way forward.

Consensus Reaching is the process of arriving at this point, and is all about providing the listening, understanding and fairness required to ensure that commitment.
The rules of consensus (listed below) are therefore deliberately about calm explanation with 100% attention.
  1. The proposal is laid out clearly, and the facilitator checks that everyone understands it
  2. Only one person to speak at a time, with no side conversations and no interruption
  3. Facts and opinions are to be laid out clearly, calmly and concisely, with no repeating of points already made
  4. If people are concerned that a point was not heard by everyone, they can raise the issue and the facilitator can check if it is so
  5. People indicate to the facilitator that they wish to contribute, and the facilitator maintains a mental queue and invites people to speak in order. People can speak more than once, but cannot repeat points
  6. Suggestions to modify the proposal during the debate are not allowed, but the debate can be stopped and a new one started if everyone agrees
  7. When the last point is made, the facilitator asks if there is any other piece of information on which someone is basing their decision which they have not heard voiced so far
  8. The facilitator confirms that everyone feels that their points have been heard, and that everyone is now basing their decision on the same information as everybody else
  9. The facilitator asks if everyone is therefore willing to abide by and support a majority choice – if not, the facilitator seeks to understand why, and what else needs to be discussed to make a majority choice the fairest option
  10. The facilitator takes a vote on whether the proposal as originally stated is to be adopted. The vote is binding on the group
Consensus Reaching takes time, particularly with larger and/or strongly opinionated groups. The simple process is to share the rules with your meeting participants and then work through them in order.
There are slight derivations to this process which can be found via the following links:

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