Helpful Tips for Making Decisions in a Group
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Making Decisions Co-operatively - a process
Consensus is a process for deciding what is best for a group at a given moment. It cannot be used by people who cannot or will not co-operate or by people who want to manipulate others, because consensus needs that everybody feels his or her position has been considered by the group. The presentation of different positions is seen as help, as something that enriches the analysis. Consensus results from having considered the issue from different viewpoints. Reaching a consensus does not mean that everybody has the same position, but that nobody feels there is a better decision that the one that has been adopted. This means you needn't agree with the decision-you just need to be sure you have no reasons to veto it. Consensus decision-making is the ultimate realization of a direct democracy because everybody takes part in decision-making and consequently everybody is responsible for those decisions. Rather than abdicating power to an individual or representative, it demands that that we take complete responsibility.
Voting - a procedure
When consensus is not possible, then groups need to vote. Voting is another reasonable democratic alternative. It is a procedure, not a process, so it is poorer than consensus, because consensus implies a whole process of people analyzing together a topic in order to seek the best of the solutions possible for them at that moment. Voting is especially useful when there is time pressure.