Communicating in a group is hard enough as it is, so making decisions can be an even more daunting task! With differing opinions and beliefs on multiple topics, establishing a consensus within a group can almost seem impossible. More than that, if you have strongly-opinionated persons within your group, without effective communication tools, tensions may rise and cause unwanted conflict.

To prevent the possibilities of conflict and chaos, a group should establish an effective decision making strategy to choose and enact on ideas in a positive manner. Setting a clear way (or ways) for your group to reach decisions will improve the communication of your group and decrease tension. Need some help deciding on effective decision making strategies for your group? Here are a few strategies you can use to help your group stay clear of problems and start solving them instead!

Take a Vote

If your group is having trouble reaching a decision, then sometimes it’s best to vote on a topic (depending on what it is). Voting is a fast, straightforward way to reaching a decision without running into too much hassle. When taking a vote, those in the majority enact the final decision on what to do on a specific topic. For example, if your group was torn between running a 5K or donating to a food drive, if the majority of people raise their hand in favor of the 5K, then that will be the final decision. You can vote in more ways than raising your hand, however. You can take a paper ballot vote, say “I” or “Nay,” and more. The choice is yours (and the majority’s!) with this simple method.

Have a Facilitator

Another way to help your group make a decision that everyone is comfortable with is by enlisting the help of a group facilitator. Facilitators serve as an unbiased individual that can help disagreeing sides within your group ultimately reach an agreement. The role of a facilitator can be assigned to the most rational person in your group who is able to provide unbiased advice. However, the facilitator does not have to be a person within your group. You can also invite a third party, such as an authoritative figure that is suitable for such a role to act as your group’s facilitator. Through the method of facilitation, members of your group can calmly talk out their perspectives and come to a compromise.

Break into Smaller Groups

Sometimes, there are topics that would take too long debating over in your general group. In this case, the best decision making strategy may be to break into smaller groups. By breaking into smaller groups, each group can be assigned a specific topic to easily create a plan for. Sub-groups allow for members to not only avoid drama and bickering from deciding on topics one at a time, they also allow for many topics to be tackled and completed at a faster rate. Sub-groups can also be a great method in letting individuals work on topics they feel more passionately about and in turn, the productivity of your group will increase.

Leader Takes Charge

This decision making strategy is best when it comes to light issues that generally don’t need much group input. When your group is debating over petty issues, sometimes a leader can be the best solution. If there is a president within your group, the decision can be placed in the hands of that president. If there is no authoritative figure, then the group can select a person (temporarily or permanently) to become the leader on a certain topic. In this method, much of the responsibility falls on the leader and the group is not needed for the final decision. This can be an effective situation if your group was stuck on an issue that desperately needed to be decided upon.     

It can be useful to decide early on in the life of a group which decision making methods will be used and when. For example, The Green Party requires full consensus from everyone in attendance before finalizing decisions at their meetings. Everyone knows from the outset that consensus is the rule. Other groups apply different decision making methods depending upon the situation. But it can be incredibly productive to articulate and put your group’s decision making rules in writing as early as possible so that everyone is ready to play by them.

About The Author: Tonae' Hamilton

Tonae' Hamilton is a recent graduate of McDaniel College with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and is a current content writer at Phoenix Heart Agency. Tonae' is fond of reading, writing poetry, and blogging and is proud of her commitment to community service, being a brother of Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity.

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