Consensus Process – Glossary

Glossary of Terms

From Solving Problems Together, by Hogie Wyckoff, Grove Press, Inc., New York, 1980

An AGENDA is a list of names, drawn up at the beginning of each group meeting to help facilitate the work and allocate the time. Each person when signing up indicates the time she wants. If the total requested exceeds the time set for the group, the group negotiates a cooperative solution.

CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM is a sharing of perceptions about a person and the unfavorable consequences of her actions. It is best given and heard in a loving context, as an impetus for positive change and growth.

A CONTRACT is a simple, positive statement about what a person wants to accomplish with the help of the group. A contract refers to actual changes that can be verified, and it should be reached by mutual agreement between the person and the rest of the group.

COOPERATION means working together for everyone’s good, including one’s own. The rules of cooperation are based on the following assumptions: there are sufficient resources to share; the individuals involved have equal rights; no one will lie or keep secrets; no one will misuse or abuse power through power plays; and no one will Rescue – that is, no one will do more than an equal share of the work or anything she does not want to do.

A DISCOUNT is a denial or invalidation of another’s experience.

A FACILITATOR takes responsibility for helping group members keep track of time and accomplish the work agreed upon in the agenda. This service can be done by either the group leader, an observer, or a member.

FEEDBACK is information and advice designed to help a group member work on her contract.

A HELD RESENTMENT is an unspoken feeling of resentment. Group members agree to hear a held resentment and not immediately reply to it.

INTELLECT is our verbal, rational, logical means of knowing, reasoning, and acting. It complements our intuition.

LIBERATION is a process rather than an end product. It involves freedom, equality, and spontaneity. It is the release from mystified oppression and isolation through action, awareness, and contact.

A PARANOID FANTASY is an intuitive sense that something unacknowledged is going on. Paranoid fantasies, when discounted, lead to exaggerated paranoid distortions and ultimately madness. All paranoias are based on an intuitive grasp and have a grain of truth. When a group member agrees to hear another’s paranoid fantasy, she works to validate the grain of truth.

PERMISSION, PROTECTION, POTENCY help people do things they want to do but have felt unable and afraid to do before. Permission is giving approval and support; Protection means backing that supports by insuring safety; and Potency is the strength and will to stay in and follow through with support and protection.

A POWER PLAY is the use of power in order to coerce others into doing things that they would not otherwise do. Power plays can be crude or subtle, aggressive or defensive.

A RESCUE is doing something for someone that she can do for herself or something that you do not want to do.

A STROKE is a unit of human recognition. Eric Berne believed that without strokes people shrivel up and die. Strokes can be positive or negative, depending on whether they feel good or bad.

The STROKE ECONOMY is an artificial scarcity of love based on five rules that forbid the following: asking for strokes that you want; giving strokes you have; accepting strokes offered to you; refusing strokes you don’t want; and stroking yourself.

VALIDATION is recognition from others that one’s feelings, ideas, and concerns are based on truth and can be accounted for.