By Lynn Morstead, Member of CoHousing Houston | December 5, 2020
"Let’s vote on it, and if that’s what the group wants to do, I’ll sign off”.
Everything inside me screamed NO, this is so NOT how we stay in community with each other! This is plain wrong. If we take a vote, then we have winners and losers. And one potential loser now has declared that she will take her toys and go home. Please, no.
Since when did this women’s group operate like this? Maybe we always have, and I’m the one who now is seeing things differently.
I normally would have gone along with the motion to vote, what else can you do? We would have ended up with the possibility of some people signed off. That would have felt like rips in the whole cloth we started with. We can’t cope with more holes in our fragmented, zoomified lives.
No, I have to do something. But why me?
I bravely and tentatively tried out baby steps towards a different approach. How about I make a proposal that we not vote, but rather ask ourselves if we could all live with an alternate agenda? Would it be possible for us to all stay together this morning, if we didn’t dive into a debrief on how we were feeling after the election? Would everyone be ok if we stuck with the regular format for our gathering? After some nodding and general noises of agreement, we pressed on.
Nobody signed off. We stayed whole. We stayed in community. It was more important to stay in relationship than to get our own preference. I wonder if anyone else felt the subtle shift in what happened?
Participating in consensus-decision making, feeling my way forward, and stumbling in the dark, has started to leak out into other areas of my life. Small glimmers of insight into the power of consensus and how the mechanics work is starting to appear in unexpected places.
This feels different than Win-Win as taught by Steven Covey, or other negotiations training programs. This is more expansive. It gets to the heart of being in Relationship, rather than being Right. That lofty, ambitious quote is easy to pin above your desk, but overwhelming without practice, support and a taste of the benefits.
Why me? Because I had sampled a different way in cohousing, and I knew it could be better.