Consultation at Baha’i National Convention
Consultation: A collective approach to decision making
In order to build unity and make decisions, Baha’is employ the principles and methods of “consultation,” a non-adversarial process understood as a collective search for truth. The consultative spirit is one of loving encouragement and respect for all voices, where participation is both frank and courteous. It is animated by a selflessness which discards the notion of ownership of ideas. Once an idea is offered, it belongs to the group.
Members of elected Baha’i institutions, couples, families, and other groups consult in order to reach a decision or to come to a deeper understanding of a question. Any group seeking to build consensus while strengthening unity may discover new insights through consultation. Consultation does not raise mere opinion to the status of fact or define truth as the compromise between opposing interest groups.
In an elected Baha’i body, if a unanimous conclusion cannot be reached, a vote may be taken. All members then wholeheartedly support implementation of the decision, regardless of their original view. Without a lingering “opposition,” the wisdom of the decision will readily become apparent and the matter may be reconsidered as necessary.
The ideals of consultation call for continually developing one’s personal qualities conducive to listening, reflection, and expression. Baha’u’llah wrote, “The heaven of divine wisdom is illumined with the two luminaries of consultation and compassion. Take ye counsel together in all matters, inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.”