when building consensus everybody wins

when i first moved into a communal house (wah gwan orange moon), i didn't know anything about organizing said communal house. and when i moved in there wasn't necessarily a big need for consensus building. (although on a side note, i would say that all houses can benefit from practicing consensus building and organizing house meetings, etc.) after gaining more roommates without much initial familiarity (now were moon cycle sisters!), we had to express personal boundaries and establish agreements. much of this i organized out of pure intuition, but then a sister-friend (hey nene girl!) helped me learn more about consensus building, which is the best way for doing business of any kind. it's not about a 'perfect' agreement (there is no such thing), but rather getting everyone to a comfortable space. consensus building is the alternative to autocratic decision making. it is great for making large decisions (e.i. should we buy a shed) and even small ones(i.e. should we make a shower schedule). with consensus building, everyone gets to weigh in. here's some things to consider when building consensus. first of all and most importantly! when building consensus, prepare to 'rally for yourself' whilst also being non-adversarial. theses two concepts do not oppose each other. that said, at your core, you have to be grounded in your personal values and boundaries to know how to protect them. also you should know that speaking up for yourself doesn't mean your at odds with another. which leads me to my next point, when someone does not agree with you, it does not mean it's time to fight, it means that you two need to understand the others point of view to be able to come to a solution. which leads me to my next tip: be a good listener. listen to what your housemates are saying. i always like to say 'so what i hear you saying is...?" to get clarity and make sure everyone knows where that person stands. next tip, don't make conventional voting your first decision making process, instead, go around the room for each housemate to say how they feel about a certain topic. then from what you gathered figure out the solution that fits into everyone's needs. if you feel yourself being adversarial, ask yourself "does this infringe on my core values and boundaries?" if not, be willing to let something 'be' for peace of mind, and a good flow of energy around the house. know that unlike autocratic processes, building consensus takes time. like being up at 1am talm bout about refrigerator space (chiiiiiiiilllllleeeeee). lastly, know that no one is silent though many are not heard, work to change that. one on ones with people can help to get more insight on how a specific housemate feels about a particular topic. 

 


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