Subject: Re: questions to ask when someone blocks a decision
From: David Heimann (
Date: Sun, 13 May 2018 15:01:38 -0700 (PDT)

Here is my take at rewriting those four questions in a more cooperative sharing style:

1. How would the proposed policy decision affect the circle's
work in accomplishing its aim?

2. What other considerations would come up in carrying out the proposal?

3. What facts or conditions is the objection based on?

4. What other policies or bylaws would be affected by the proposed


Date: Sat, 12 May 2018 08:59:59 -0400
From: Muriel Kranowski <murielk [at]>
To: Cohousing-L <cohousing-l [at]>
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ questions to ask when someo e blocks a decision
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Karen, it would be very helpful if you could give examples of a typical
question and a reframed version of it that gets at the person's needs.

Date: Sat, 12 May 2018 07:19:43 -0400
From: Karen Gimnig <gimnig [at]>
To: cohousing-l [at]
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ Cohousing-L Digest, Vol 172, Issue 8
        <CACnOa4dk7fQiPkhxUNX5iMD8HHn9VmcAzW6cNTEf=Z_hmzCkhQ [at]>
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It can be very useful to have structured processes that help people feel
safe when there is disagreement.  At the same time, I recommend caution as
good process is only part of the answer.  As others have mentioned, even a
very well thought out process can be misapplied or misused, or simply be
insufficient given the circumstances and individual abilities involved.
It's important for communities to have members (and/or hired help) who have
some training and experience with facilitation and who can hold the
process, determine when to apply it, and implement it with an awareness of
the impact it is having.  By all means, fill their tool box with good
process structures, but also trust their training, experience, intuition
and judgement to guide your community when emotions are high.

One simple suggestion that I would to add to that toolbox, is to avoid the
grammatical form of a question.  When there is an objection, I start from
the assumption that both the "proposer(s)" and the "objector(s)" are trying
to get needs met.  Generally in community there is a value and intention
around meeting needs when possible and at the very least hearing and
considering needs.  The challenge is that in our culture we are highly
averse to naming needs and often don't even name them for ourselves.  Thus,
for me, the primary goal when there is an objection that challenges a
group, is to help everyone identify the underlying needs. This is largely
personal, internal and vulnerable work.  Questions, in our culture, do not
stimulate this sort of presence.  You might think of how you experienced
questions in school.  In general we respond to a question by seeking the
right or most convincing answer.  The focus is on impacting another rather
than looking within.

The alternative is actually quite simple.  By simply rearranging the
grammar, we can turn a question into a sentence stem, or "complete the
sentence" kind of prompt.  The impact of this shift is to open the
possibility of more introspection.  For example, the first question from We
The People, below, could possibly be reframed as:
I feel the proposed policy would impact the circle's ability to accomplish
its aim in that . . .

Note that this also frames the prompt such that both proposers and
objectors can use the same prompt to express their feelings or beliefs.

This is one small tool, and not a complete answer to dilemma of objections.
I hope it is helpful.

In Community,
Karen Gimnig
Professional Facilitator
.net <>

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 expectations?

4. Would the proposed decision conflict with other policies or bylaws that
are outside
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 Consent.?

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