Group Process

More than buildings, cohousing is about people. Successful cohousing communities spend as much time and energy on growing connections and attending to group process as they do to building and maintaining structures. A strong desire for collaboration and consensus isn’t enough; we need to learn and practice the skills to do it well. (After all, most of us did NOT grow up knowing how to do this!) Periodic training in communication skills and conflict resolution along with opportunities to discuss deeper values and goals can help maintain healthy, strong relationships. Read one of these books together and discuss it, or bring in an outside facilitator to help you see the water you swim in. -- Eris Weaver, Group Process Consultant
Grace Kim responded to a query on cohousing-l to “cohousing veterans:” “What should we (a forming group) be worried about / work out in advance / get a good plan for NOW?" I'll preface my advice...
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Sociocratic governance requires consensus decision-making for policy decisions. Policy decisions include setting goals, allocating funds, assigning people to roles and responsibilities, and...
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East Bay Cohousing members practice using consensus while meeting at the common house of Swan’s Market Cohousing in Oakland, CA, last year.When people choose to live in community, they hold a...
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In principle, the more information we have about something the better decision we are likely to make. We are likely to have the most information at the last minute. Deciding more than we really need...
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Skills for Committees Slides This presentation is copyright Liz Logan, 2008. Permission is granted to download one copy to share with your community, with attribution. Please call or write if you...
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Talkers vs. Doers slides This presentation is copyright Liz Logan, 2008. Permission is granted to download one copy to share with your community with attribution. Please call or write if you have...
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In principle, considering alternative solutions makes for better decisions. Exploring alternatives either: (1) builds faith in the leading option (we get to see that the leading option really is the...
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In principle, just because a person is talking does not necessarily mean they are contributing, or that they are the only one contributing. Most of the time in a group decision setting, listening is...
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In principle, consensus among the whole group is worth the effort for decisions intended to transcend generations. Consensus is achieved when every member of the group understands and consents to the...
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In principle, a simple but important decision I have to make every moment in a group is whether to open my mouth or to keep it shut; to talk or to listen. I contribute best to good group decisions if...
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In principle, to make good group decisions we need to hear all perspectives. We need to be able to openly disagree with respect and civility. We need to have the courage to speak what is on our minds...
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In principle, most conflicts are because of mismatched expectations. Where the expectations are really different the conflict can be really big. No one likes disappointment: when you think something...
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In principle, when someone comes into a meeting or a negotiation with an already-established position, it limits prospects for creative, innovative, win-win solutions. When I state my position on an...
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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...
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In principle, we know we are prone to make mistakes; it is part of being human. And we know that mistakes are our best teachers. Learning from small mistakes prevents big mistakes later. Yet we are...
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In principle, consensus generally means that all perspectives are heard and all concerns are addressed so all participants can willingly consent to those decisions. Many groups aspire to make...
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In principle, understanding is that upon which we stand. It is the basis for all our beliefs and actions, like a foundation. All we do and say is based upon our understanding of the situation. We do...
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In principle, good group decisions are creations. Creativity comes from putting together two or more things, events or ideas. Germination leads to new creations. Like water with a poppy seed, fertile...
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In principle, it is a shared vision that holds a group together; a common view of how people want things to be different in the future. If my opinion of how things should change does no overlap with...
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In principle, groups make their best decisions when no single person knows what is best for the group. There is a sign in a meeting room that I know of: “No one in this room is smarter than all of us...
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In principle, it is rarely beneficial to say the first thing that comes to mind. Just because I think or feel something does not mean I have to say it. Even when there is a sense of urgency;...
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In principle, when things are not right, a natural instinct is to want someone else to do something different, or to want a policy to be different. Rarely are these the best solutions. It’s easy to...
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In principle, when I am in conflict with others in my group or troubled by a difficult circumstance and I want relief, I have basically two choices. I can either work to change things for the better...
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In principle, we each have a personality type, hardwired into us, not likely to change. There are many methods of assessing personality types, Myers-Briggs the most famous among them. Most...
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In principle, more often than not, a group will develop a great solution to the wrong problem. Before proceeding with a solution we need to see that it is aimed squarely at the problem and to do that...
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In principle, moving quickly often seems like a good idea, but moving quickly in the wrong direction simply gets you to the wrong place fast. Most groups have a high need for quick achievement. We...
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In principle, the best group decisions are based on shared understanding of everyone's perspective, and the best way to get a quick read of where everyone stands is to take a straw vote. A straw vote...
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In principle, if we want our group decisions to be creative, that is, to result in new and better ways of doing things, we need to draw on all our resources and blend them in new ways. Typical...
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In principle, it is best to make the rules before taking the field, before starting the meeting. When we decide HOW we are going to make decisions before we find ourselves in the tension of making...
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In principle, the chances of making good group decisions are greatly increased if all the participants believe there is good in everyone. We are more likely to do well if we look for the best in each...
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