Moz's description of meeting process
From: Diana Leafe Christian (
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2013 08:48:46 -0800 (PST)

Oh my gosh, Moz, the kind of meeting culture you describe below sounds awful. It sounds as if these community meetings don't have a skilled facilitator. A facilitator for a consensus meeting (I assume you're using consensus?) is _supposed_ to graciously yet firmly stop digressions/cross-town buses, interruptions, repetitions, people talking over each other, accusations, blame, and ill will flying across the room. I've been using consensus first in a nonprofit and now at my community, for 18 years total, and was a consensus trainer myself for 6 years, and I can tell you that these kinds of behaviors are "illegal" in terms of how consensus was designed to function. I'm wondering what are your facilitators are doing when these meeting behaviors occur. Stunned into speechless immobility like a deer in the headlights? Unable to deal with it because it's too overwhelming? If so, there are relatively easy-to-implement things a facilitator can do, with good will and courtesy, to stop these behaviors. I highly recommend both Tree Bressen's facilitation workshops in the Pacific Northwest, Laird and Ma'ikwe's regional two-year consensus facilitation trainings. Both are designed to help facilitators in cohousing and other kinds of communities improve their skills. These kinds of meeting behaviors should _never_ happen.

Diana Leafe Christian
Ecovillages newsletter

Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2013 08:11:29 +1100
From: Moz <list [at]>

R.P. Aditya said:
The reason for that explicit request to make decisions in a meeting in the policy is that just as there are so many of us who use the written
word to communicate effectively, we also have to include those who
prefer to do it verbally.

Unfortunately they usually also say "and everyone has to participate
in the verbal process". Which actively excludes people who can't deal
with large groups of people constantly talking at each other and
interrupting and digressing and just talkiingovereachother and there
are lots of them and they keep talking at me and demanding stuff from
me and there are so many of them and they talk so fast and what they
say doesn't make sense even when they say it several times which they
always do and how long is this going to go on for and if you demand
that I speak why won't you listen when I do why can't I leave and
that's not what I said when will it stop.

But I'll accept that. On the proviso that the decision will be written
down. No caveats, no post-hoc exceptions based on stuff that didn't
get recorded. If it's not in the written decision, it's not part of
the decision. Part of the process, by all means, but not part of the
final decision.

However much I (and apparently you) would prefer the clarity of
written discussions, there are times when the emotional content
isn't carried or misinterpreted in writing or simply doesn't suit

I can understand that some people like face to face meetings. I like
that they do, really. But for me those meetings are a lot of work,
hard to process, unpleasant, usually tedious, and too often result in
people disagreeing with me about how I feel. Usually to my face, and
vigorously. At the very least I need to have an audio recording of the
meeting so I can review it and try to understand what happened (the
recording is often an issue).

Also, "great social skills" must necessarily mean the ability to deal
effectively with people having different levels of social skills. This
nonsense that someone has "great skills" but those skills can be
accidentally defeated by someone whose skills are not great? Does not
make sense. In other field an expert is still an expert in the
presence of someone dumb as a rock.


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