Tips

Ask, don’t tell

Good Group Tips

In principle, good group decisions are based on shared understanding and shared understanding comes from asking questions of each other. When we tell a peer what they should do without first asking their opinion, we risk having made a decision without the benefit of all available information. And we risk missing the opportunity for advance support of the decision.

Don’t ask, don’t tell contributes to inaction. Tell, don’t ask contributes to oppression. Ask, don’t tell contributes to good group decisions and resulting good actions.

Practical Tip: In relations among relatively equal peers, ask someone’s opinion before telling them what to do.

Facilitating leaders ask. Commanding leaders tell. Facilitating shared understanding and advance support for an action dramatically increases chances of it being implemented well.

Asking rather than telling is a spiritual attitude of humility and a practical way to muster all available information and enthusiasm.

– Craig Freshley

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Reverence

Good Group Tips

 

In principle, groups are apt to make better decisions when they do so with a sense of reverence; that is, when they are serious and focused, when group members feel that something special is happening, when there is extra respect for the moment and for each other. Reverence is associated with a sense of humility; a sense that there is more happening here than I alone can comprehend or control. Indeed that’s the thing about group decisions. It’s about more than just me.

Practical Tip: Instill reverence into your group decision making. Be fully present. Show respect for your group process and for each other.

Some groups instill reverence by beginning meetings with a pledge or a prayer or at least a call to order. Other groups instill reverence by meeting in a special place or wearing deliberate clothes or using formal speech or titles. Other signs of reverence are listening without interruption and turning off cell phones and other distractions.

Reverence is an outward showing of inward feelings of respect. To be reverent is to signal others that one is focused and serious, doing something special, that one is humble: all qualities that help chances of making good group decisions.

You might make group decisions without any sense of reverence, but then how does anyone know that the decision is to be taken seriously?

– Craig Freshley

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Putting people in boxes is not okay

Good Group Tips

In principle, when we look at people in certain ways, place labels on them, or “put them in boxes,” it limits what they have to offer. It is especially tempting to “contain” those who disagree with us. We’re tempted to ignore our adversaries, work around them, wall them off, shut them down. These techniques might help us win as individuals, but they work against making good group decisions.

In principle, the best group decisions come when we genuinely consider all offerings, not just the ones we like. In fact, what makes collaborative decisions better than individual decisions is the tension of initial disagreement. If you try to wall-off tension or put the tension-causer in a box, you may gain short-term peace but forgo more creative, enduring solutions.

Practical Tip: Muster the courage to really consider disagreement. Muster the discipline to work with people you don’t like. Resist labels, walls, and boxes and be open-minded to all offerings.

When someone is placed in a box — silenced, contained, ignored — they add about as much value to the decision as a cardboard box.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.