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Consulting is a process whereby decision makers invite others to

influenec them before they make their choice. You can consult

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1 66 CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS

with experts, a representative population, or even everyone who

wants to offer an opinion. Consulting can be an efficient way of

gaining ideas and support without bogging down the decision­

making process. At least not too much. Wise leaders, parents,

and even couples frequently make decisions in this way. They

gather ideas, evaluate options, make a choice, and then inform

the broader population.

Vote

Voting is best suited to situations where efficiency is the highest

value-and you’re selecting from a number of good options.

Members of the team realize they may not get their first choice,

but frankly they don’t want to waste time talking the issue to

death. They may discuss options for a while and then call for a

vote. When facing several decent options, voting is a great time

saver but should never be used when team members don’t agree

to support whatever decision is made. In these cases, consensus

is required.

Consensus

This method can be both a great blessing and a frustrating curse.

Consensus means you talk until everyone honestly agrees to one

decision. This method can produce tremendous unity and high­

quality decisions. If misapplied, it can also be a horrible waste of

time. It should only be used with ( 1 ) high-stakes and complex

issues or (2) issues where everyone absolutely must support the

final choice.

HOW TO CHOOSE

Now that we know the four methods, let’s explore which method

to use at which time-along with some hints about how to avoid

common blunders.

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