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Additional resources for Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making (Jossey-Bass Business & Management)
People tend to keep risky opinions to themselves. The most highly regarded comments are those that are the clearest, the smartest, the most well polished. In business-as-usual discussions, thinking out loud is treated with impatience; people get annoyed if the speaker’s remarks are vague or poorly stated. This induces self-censorship, and reduces the quantity and quality of participation overall. A few people end up doing almost all the talking – and in many groups, those few people just keep repeating themselves and repeating themselves.
This is truly a shame. Too many high-minded and well-funded efforts to resolve the world’s toughest problems have foundered on the shoals of group dynamics. So let’s be clear-headed about this: misunderstanding and miscommunication are normal, natural aspects of participatory decision-making. The Groan Zone is a direct, inevitable consequence of the diversity that exists in any group. Not only that, but the act of working through these misunderstandings is part of what must be done to lay the foundation for sustainable agreements.
Then, they’d refine the proposal until they arrived at a final decision that nicely incorporated the breadth of their thinking. Ah yes . . if only real life worked that way. Community At Work © 2007 13 FACILITATOR’S GUIDE TO PARTICIPATORY DECISION-MAKING DYNAMICS OF GROUP DECISION-MAKING DIVERSITY OF IDEAS L I CA S P Y T CES P RO E DIV RG T EN TH IN K N I G NEW TOPIC FAMILIAR OPINIONS DIVERSE PERSPECTIVES TIME In practice, it’s hard for people to shift from expressing their own opinions to understanding the opinions of others.