Re: Questions to ask when someone blocks a decision
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Tue, 8 May 2018 08:23:14 -0700 (PDT)
> On May 8, 2018, at 12:18 AM, Sandy Thomson <sandykthomson [at]> 
> wrote:
> I thought I read a post on here that talked about 4 or 5 questions to ask a 
> person when they block a decision.  I can’t find it anywhere.  Does anyone 
> remember that post and what it said or have experience using a set group of 
> questions to ask the person blocking the decision to get at if it is really 
> in the best interest of the community or just a personal issue?

It was probably the list from We the People which has just come out in a fully 
updated and enlarged edition. 

But first: “Best interests of the community” is by definition a majority 
opinion. It’s something decided based on what most people believe. To be 
measurable, it has to be defined in terms of a mutually acceptable purpose. 
Otherwise it is just something that sounds more altruistic than "more people 
believe this.”

All issues in community are personal issues. Community is based on personal 
issues. It is composed of individuals. As soon as you begin thinking this 
individual doesn’t count, there is no community — only community -1. 

That is a valid decision — I’m sorry but we don’t share common aims. Your 
objection won’t be respected in this decision. You have made a conscious 
decision to exclude the person — or part of them.

But the decision should be made on those terms which are more measurable than 
“best interests of the community” and “personal”.

Also an objection must be reasoned, not a veto. A “block” is a veto. A reasoned 
objection is a statement that a person’s domain would be negatively affected by 
the proposed decision.

The questions from We the People are: Examining the Basis for an Objection

1. Would the proposed policy decision negatively affect the circle’s ability to 
accomplish its aim?

2. Would it produce new and equally troublesome difficulties?

3. Is the objection based on known facts or conditions, not fears or negative 

4. Would the proposed decision conflict with other policies or bylaws that are 
the circle’s domain of responsibility.

“Domain” means this is an area in which a person has a decision-making 

These are on page 83 in the new edition. Equally or even more helpful is the 
section on resolving objections. There are many ways to do this that actually 
work. In addition to the chapters on decision-making this is “Consent and 
Rounds” (A case study) and a summary guide, "Resolving Objections & Building 

At Amazon:

The book is elegant and much easier to consult as a reference than the digital 
book. The digital edition is not as lovely as the book by any means. I was just 
learning how to design digital books. I’m planning on redoing it but first have 
to complete formatting of the Portuguese and Spanish translations, both digital 
editions. For a book with graphs, charts, and illustrations, the digital 
version is complicated because it has to be coded like a webpage. (More than 
you wanted to know but there it is. The Turkish translation is in process.)

Sharon Villines, Washington DC
Coauthor with John Buck of
"We the People: Consenting to a Deeper Democracy” 2nd Edition
Print: ISBN: 978-0979282737
Digital: ISBN 978-0979282720

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