O'Reilly logo

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Consensus Through Conversations

Book Description

Whether you facilitate meetings for a living or simply as part of your job, you've surely found yourself “standing in the fire”—at the center of a group that is polarized, angry, fearful, and confused. Veteran facilitator Larry Dressler has found that what makes the crucial difference in these situations is the leader's presence. You have to master a way of being that allows you to remain effective no matter how hot things get.
Dressler shows how to cultivate six “stances”—mental, emotional, and physical— that will keep you steady, impartial, purposeful, compassionate, and good-humored,. Drawing on his own experiences and the insights of thirty-five distinguished practitioners, he helps you keep your cool and make the kind of inventive, split-second decisions these pressure-cooker situations demand.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Dedication
  5. Foreword
  6. Preface
  7. Introduction: The New Rules of Decision-making
  8. Chapter 1: What is Consensus?
    1. Consensus Defined
    2. Beliefs that Guide Consensus
    3. Choosing the Right Decision-Making Approach
    4. Alternatives to Consensus
    5. Common Misconceptions
    6. Consensus in Action
  9. Chapter 2: How do I Prepare?
    1. Determine Whether Consensus is a Good Fit
    2. Decide Who to Involve in the Decision
    3. Enlist a Skilled Facilitator
    4. Clarify the Group’s Scope and Authority
    5. Educate Group Members
    6. Develop an Agenda
    7. Gather the Relevant Information
    8. Start the Meeting off Right
  10. Chapter 3: What are the Basic Steps?
    1. Step One: Define the Issue
    2. Step Two: Establish Decision Criteria
    3. Step Three: Craft the Proposal
    4. Step Four: Test for Consensus
    5. Step Five: Reach Agreement
  11. Chapter 4: How do I Work with Disagreement?
    1. Using Consensus Cards
    2. Expressing and Resolving Legitimate Concerns
    3. Dealing with Opposition or “Blocks”
  12. Chapter 5: Six Traps that Undermine Consensus
    1. Member Absence from Critical Meetings
    2. Grandstanding Members
    3. Obstructive Blocking
    4. Pressuring Members to Conform (Coercive Tactics)
    5. Group Fatigue and/or Frustration
    6. Silent Members
  13. Chapter 6: Ten Tips for Better Consensus Meetings
    1. Set Clear Ground Rules
    2. Use a “Group Memory”
    3. Distinguish “Must” from “Want” Criteria
    4. Use Silence and Pauses
    5. Assign Questions and Tasks to Breakout Groups
    6. Put Discussion in a Fishbowl
    7. Stack Participants
    8. Take a Break
    9. Use Technology Wisely
    10. Evaluate the Meeting
  14. Chapter 7: Toward High-Commitment Decisions
    1. Return to the Roots of Consensus
    2. Remember the Words of My Teachers
    3. Reconnect with My Purpose and Values
  15. Resource Guide
  16. Index
  17. About the Author