One Woman’s Consensus Building Success

Those of you who have followed this blog from its early days, might remember my posting, several years ago, a real life success story: Consensus Success in a Volunteer Group. The volunteer group in question was a quilt bee planning a joint project. Gracie, the lady who shared the story with me, could have presented her plan for the project and argued its merits. But Gracie had read my book, Bridges to Consensus. So instead of commandeering the project, she asked open questions about others’ ideas. As a result, they developed a plan that she liked even better than her first idea.

She Helps Children Build Success

Gracie has now reported another success, one in which she helped three children, ranging in age from ten to six years of age, practice consensus building. The children she was minding asked her for pens for some game or art project they were doing. Gracie told them she had two pens, but she thought of a better idea. She had $1, and there was a dollar store nearby where they could get a whole pack of colored markers for $1.

Off they went to the store, and in short order, the three kids had three different preferences for which marker pack to buy. One preferred a ten-marker pack. Another wanted a five-marker pack. The third preferred the variety of colors in still anther marker pack. They asked for more money so that each of them could get the markers they wanted.

Gracie said, “No. I only have one dollar. You all work out an agreement on one marker pack for me to buy.” Then, she walked away to browse other items.

When she returned, the kids had agreed on the ten-marker pack. They must have discussed the pros and cons of the various packs–in other words, stated the interests (reasons) behind their respective preferences–because they explained the interests/reasons behind their joint decision. The ten-pack would give each of the children three markers, plus they would have one marker to give Gracie.

Better than Satisfactory Consensus

I love this solution because, through interest talk, the kids not only satisfied their interests, they went above and beyond satisfactory to include a bonus, a gift for Gracie, who treated them to the markers. This is what can happen when people of any age discuss interests. They can make a satisfactory agreement even better, as Gracie’s quilt bee did years ago.

Try It!

To learn more about how you, too, can build agreements that are better than just satisfactory, read (or review) Bridges to Consensus, pp. 49-128 or Love on the Rocks with a Twist, pp. 1-9, and please let me know how it goes.