Principles of Consultation

(These are borrowed from the Baha’i approach to problem-solving, decision-making and conflict resolution which is called Consultation. Sounds a lot like Authentic Dialogue):

Consultation is a form of collective decision-making carried out in accordance with a clear body of spiritual principles.
The aim of Consultation is to investigate the truth in a spirit of love and unity.
The following are twelve key principles; there are many more.

Main idea: Consultation is the art of collective investigation of the truth about any issue or problem. It is a form of spiritual and intellectual exchange in an atmosphere of love & unity.

1. Each and every one should have a chance to speak.
All have the right to speak freely and frankly.
All others support and guarantee this right.

2. Every one accords utmost attention, respect, interest and appreciation to the person who is speaking.
We guarantee attention and respect.

3. Once stated, every opinion or viewpoint belongs to the consulting group.
No one seeks to impose his view on others.
The person who offers an idea immediately becomes detached from right of authorship; he adopts a position of detachment from the idea that he offered.

4. No one should be offended by any opinion stated by anyone else.
Everyone strives to be courageous and open-minded enough to listen receptively to any kind of idea, however unusual it might seem at first.

5. Sincerity is vital to the process of consultation.
Without sincerity there could be no effective consultation.
Each person speaks openly and frankly, in a loving, kind and courteous manner.
Sincerity is moderated or modified by wisdom and tact.

6. Purity of motive:
There must be no hidden agenda.
We speak with pure intent. Our hearts are open and our motives are pure.

7. Courtesy.
We exercise utmost courtesy to everyone present at the consultation session. Courtesy is expressed both verbally as well as physically, in our body language.

8. Switch off your “No” mechanism:
Switch on your mechanism for Co-creativity, and engage in consultation as a form of co-creativity. Instead of saying “No, but…” or even “Yes, but ……”.  Please use the mode of  “Yes, and…” (This is called the mode of Co-creativity)

9. Unity is more important than asserting your position as being the Truth.
When two people each insist that they are right and the other wrong, both are failing in spiritual understanding; both are at fault.

It is better for a decision to be imperfect than disunity and discord appears within the group. Incorrect decisions can be rectified, but without unity, nothing good and enduring can be achieved. To be united is more important than to be correct or perfectly right. Real truth is never against unity. Real truth is based on spiritual understanding.

10. A decision arrived at after full consultation becomes a common decision of the whole group.
There are no minority positions and no dissenting opinions, no protest votes. All members of the group abide by the collective decision. All strive to implement the common decision in a spirit of love and unity.

11. Self-control is exercised in respect of the topic and the time elapsed during consultation.
Each member of the group is a self-monitoring chairperson. In order to facilitate the search for truth, the direction and purpose of the consultation is entrusted to a Facilitator. The latter is not a chief, not an authoritarian or dictatorial leader.

12. The spark of truth emerges from a clash of opinions:
Opinions may clash, but the personalities and characters of the members of the group are not supposed to be  involved. Detachment is vital to this spiritual discipline.

We humbly recommend the use of the art of Consultation, as outlined above, in your family, with friends, relatives and colleagues. Use it as often as you can, in all aspects of your life.  And encourage others to use this tool too.

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