Best conditions for consensus

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

The principles of consensus outlined above are easy to agree with in the abstract, and comparatively easy to implement when discussions and decisions are fairly uncontroversial. It becomes more difficult to practise when divisions within a group are deep, and animosity begins to undermine mutual respect. It is also difficult to practise when decisions need to be taken urgently and immediately. Consensus usually emerges slowly, as positions are refined and modified step by step to accommodate others. Attempting to rush a consensus process results in the same feelings of winning and losing as do using majority-rule or veto decision-making.

A consensual style of decision-making works best when participants genuinely respect each other, and everyone fundamentally agrees about the identifiable goals, or at least has shared values. It demands considerable commitment from group members to participate in the process, sharing their ideas and actively listening to others.