Re: Dealing with deadlock
From: Stephen Hawthorne (
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 94 10:51 CDT
Our experience at Blue Heron over the two years we've been meeting is that 
Tom is right: people tend to dig in their heels when they are scared. 
This can take the form of deadlock or just of raising so many questions
that we can't get to a decision.  

A solution that has worked well for us
is to use a talking stick and to go around the circle having people talk 
specifically about what they are afraid of.  The stick helps us all listen
better since it eliminates cross-talk or the impulse to "fix" the person's
fears.  When we are truly listening to each other we often come to
a compassionate understanding of the other that allows some new
idea to surface that we can reach consensus on.

In addition, it seems that when people really feel heard, they relax a bit
and become more open to possibilities they have previously been closed to
because of their fear.

Stephen Hawthorne
Blue Heron Farm
Chatham County, NC

 On Mon, 18 Jul 1994, Tom Buck wrote:

> Seems to me that dead-lock over an issue means that more discussion
> needs to happen.  Usually deadlock revolves around people being
> terrified that they will be left out or not have their agenda 
> included.  Consensus does not mean that everybody agrees 100%.  I
> think that it means that we are agreeing to do something, we may 
> change our minds later, and the agreement means that those not in
> 100% agreement will not oppose, undermine, or resist the consensed
> issue.
> What seems to help is to defuse the situation somehow, remind ourselves
> that we are in this together, and try to non-confrontationally and
> non-defensively explore what the REAL problem is.  Because it's often
> not the stated problem.

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