Making decisions as a group with no leader – horizontal social skills 101


Your quick guide to making decisions as a group with no assigned leader at all. When you do this a lot, and hang out with people who do this a lot the funny thing is you’ll never even notice how good the communication gets until you step out of your political bubble ..aaand notice adult human persons are usually taking turns to speak just by speaking over someone else interrupting somebody or raising their voice or just talking half an hour without even checking how other people in the room might be doing. And it is brutal! So when I get in to those situations, and notice myself wondering somebody PLEASE facilitate this mess, that’s usually when I.. find out my group has gotten really good Without the up-to-down structure, like having a leader, the group dynamic gets horizontal. No-one has decisive power over someone else, instead it’s everyone’s interest to find out what you can do as a group, knowing for sure everyone is agreeing. It’s not any harder than walking around with a group of friends collectively deciding if you want to drink your beer in the park or go to someone’s place, or maybe have pizza at first. We all have, to some degree, experience of doing decisions as a group usually very naturally and not thinking about it that much. At bare minimum, people do know how to vote or ask each other. It’s best if everyone just sits down in a circle so that you can all see each other and be seen by others but sometimes the room is too small or whatever you got to improvise lay down in a pile i dunno
it’s not important just get comfortable – and notice being treated as equal, is, for most of us initially, uncomfortable due to some life experiences. But that’s ok. If someone called this meeting, they’ll now read the keypoints you got to discuss or vote about Before you start talking, though, you’ll share tasks and roles but if there’s less than ten of you, or if your group is experienced in all this it may not even be necessary. HAND SIGNALS You’ll announce you want a turn to speak like this lift your hand and index finger up Easy enough! You’ve now let everyone know you have something to say. You don’t have to hold it up the entire time someone else finishes their turn They’ll notice. One great benefit in using hand signals is you’ll know what the others are thinking about while you are still speaking. So, if you agree, shake your hand up. If you disagree, shake it downwards. So that’s the basic rhythm of the conversation people are lifting their index fingers up and agreeing or disagreeing. “I- I, I do agree, I do think all these debates would benefit from a little bit of levity and humor” The Silent Applause! Or, the Jazz Hands. This is the same than applause would be, but, again you are not interrupting the one who is speaking. You are just enthusiastically agreeing, and giving them immediate positive feedback. And the group will know THIS is the direction you are encouraging us to go for. The Technical You can interrupt the order in which everyone would be speaking with this, because typically you have something to say about the physical surroundings. Like, closing a door before we can continue. The other signal you can use to jump to the middle of the round is Direct. It’s, like, two sentences at most. Let’s say someone is talking about organizing a demonstration but you know an obstacle that would mess the entire plan Just point at them and say: “Yeah, except for, we can’t use the central square there’s an event the entire week.” Wrap it up! You are repeating yourself This has been said already, let’s save some time here… Raise the roof! as in, speak louder! We can’t hear you. Proposal You want to take the conversation in to a new idea. Progress We have passed the point. We got to get back to the point. I don’t get it – I don’t understand what you mean. If you haven’t assigned a facilitator of the conversation you may, while announcing your turn, announce the order as well maybe someone else lifted their finger up before you just look at them and lift two fingers up you are now effectively saying I’ll go after you. If you are not sure, you can show two or three fingers at someone and silently decide “okay, you go second, and then I’ll go after you.” Clarification. Critical information is missing, question(s) need to be aswered before we can even vote about this. Hard limit! You would not be in for that action we should not do this at all If you don’t want your entire group to go for it, share your reasoning. But this is when there is no consensus. And finally Language. Do this if you need translation. TASKS & ROLES Facilitator. The person who points out the queue “You go first… then you.. …then you.” Notes & Afterwork Assign a person who takes notes and send them to everyone afterwards And collects everyone’s contact information. Translator Have a person who knows how to translate language for someone sit next to each other Does it scale up?
Yes it does. Biggest meeting I’ve been to had, like, 80 or more people in it and I’m still so impressed! At that point you may have to assign affilitation groups maybe have smaller meetings before the bigger one so you know the consensus in your group so you don’t have to use as much time there in the middle of a bigger meeting And you’ll know what your group wants to bring up you may even assign a spokes person. In bigger meetings you’ll also need the Timer someone who’s only task is to announce every half an hours “We’ve now used a half an hour do we keep going, or do we have a break now?” Rotate all roles! These are not hard things to do. And it’s important they are not always the same people to do the same things. WHAT NOT TO DO Avoid dialogue When you say something and someone responds to what you just said it is not automatically your turn again. Next one takes it from there. But you can always ask for new comment or throw a direct if you must but turning out the two people dialogues entirely helps a lot. you’ll all have easier time getting most out of your group intelligence and meetings will turn out less exhausting. Because let’s face it, meetings are exhausting! They take a lot of mental energy from all of us. The more efficient you can do them the more likely people are to show up again. Especially with activism, there’s always more people in the beginning the project than the weeks following. So you don’t want to throw a big thing out for media and leave it for three people to complete in public while the other ten just disappeared. So whenever the meetings are about, let’s say, human’s rights issues and media, they WILL get exhausting and awful by default. And you all want to do it the most efficient way for yourselves and each other. So, while you are waiting for your turn to speak see if you can get your point well thought through. And if someone says what you were just about to say, just skip your turn and let everything roll. SAFETY & PRIVACY It’s a common practice to leave cellphones out of all this. First of all it’s polite and they’re distraction anyway, but mainly for safety and privacy. So, either turn it off and pick the battery out and stack a pile of telephone pieces in the middle of the table have fun figuring it out later or leave them entirely in to a separate room. Before you go pick your cellphone back up let everyone know “Do we still have something serious to talk about or can I put the battery on, and switch it on already?” “I got to call my dog.” Bring all the technical points up in the beginning Who returns the key and do you need to get out of the place by something o’clock what’s the latest you know of the situation before you turn off the connection to outer world? Do you have clocks that are not phones? I don’t know if this is also when people do the famous pronoun round? We only have one pronoun in finnish language. And we don’t typically even distinguish between living things and objects. So everything and everybody goes by pronoun “it”(se) around here, so, umm.. Don’t do that in english. The other important thing I wasn’t paying attention to until it got pointed out to me, was this one time I was in park with my friends and my mother who kept repeating to me even weeks and months afterwards how impressed she was “Nobody was in their phones!Nobody was in their phones – – they were just talking to each other, and paying attention to each other!” Like, what can I say? Occasionally we have a reason to like, it originates in safety culture Rest of the time We just want to? Our troops are hot in that way So this channel is part of much larger collective known as [BÄNGG] known as BreadTube, which means this was totally filmed with no money at all in our basement also we go against algorithms so….. help! Help me out with those. THAANKS.

9 thoughts on “Making decisions as a group with no leader – horizontal social skills 101

  1. ["ANARCHY MEANS I CAN DO WHAT I WANT, MOM"]
    Start building horizontal structure – stop putting the time in networks filled with Adult Human Persons who still interrupt others or raise voice to get a point through, and get fine tuned with the consensual gang instead; join one or create one.
    And please do help me out with the algorithm, this isn't exactly a popular sport.

  2. Tip for phones without a removable battery: wrap in a plastic bag and a second layer of Aluminium foil, then place them inside a stainless steel trash can. Tadaa! Mini Faraday-cage.

  3. damn, this seems it would take a while to learn. i really like it tho. civilised meetings FTW.

    also, cute finnish accent 😍

  4. In the US, we have a group called COG (Covenant of the Goddess). It's pretty big and run by consensus, which takes a little longer (because most of the people are strangers to each other). but we use many of the same hand signals you mention here in order to help move things along 🙂 (We do have voting, though, so it's not an anarchy.)

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