Consenting to Decisions
They can *support* the proposal, meaning they would like to see it through as is.
There’s a really important thing that sometimes nervous people like me don’t realize—that the expression “to make a decision” is perfectly accurate: a decision is something you *create*. There’s an inclination to think that with enough research and thinking and conversation and information, it’s possible to determine what the *correct* decision is; to think that decision making is an intellectual puzzle. But generally it’s not. You *make* decisions. Something is created when you make a decision. It’s an act of will, not an act of thought.
I think it also pays to remember that decision making—whether hierarchical or consensus-based—is as much art as science. There’s a passage in Misha Glouberman and Sheila Heti’s excellent *[The Chairs Are Where the People Go](https://aworkinglibrary.com/writing/making-decisions)* that I return to often. In it, they write:
This goes something like this: within a group, a proposal is put up for a decision. (The proposal may be made by one or more members of the group, or it may come from one or more people outside the group.) The group discusses the proposal, and then each member of the group states their position on the proposal. Three positions are possible:
They can *block* the proposal, meaning they do not believe it should go forward.
Or they can *stand aside*, declining to either support or block it.
Consensus is only achieved when there are zero blocks and a small number (say less than 20% of the group) standing aside. Lack of consensus does not necessarily doom the proposal. Those in support can then invite the people blocking or standing aside to name their concerns, request revisions to the proposal, or make a counterproposal.