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Group Decision Tip: On Behalf Cautions

In principle, speaking on behalf of others is fraught with potential conflict. It warrants caution. It encourages assumptions and blurs understanding. It slows and can even clog the decision-making process. To avoid misunderstanding, conflict, and inefficiency, it helps to ask questions of each other in real-time conversation. The most efficient and best decisions are usually made face-to-face among those most affected by the decision.

Group Decision Tips IconSometimes people speak on behalf of others to stir up trouble or for entertainment, and it often amounts to exactly that.

Practical Tip: Resist the temptation to speak on behalf of others. Speak for yourself and encourage others to speak for themselves. Help create a group culture of support and respect so that people are not shy about speaking and standing up for themselves.

When information is delivered on behalf of others take it for what it is: once removed, half the story. Not to be ignored perhaps, but not to base a decision on.

There are times when speaking on behalf of someone else or a class of people is appropriate, in fact called for. There are times that a group should rightfully consider voices not present. However, a position on behalf of someone not present is rarely cause to block a decision. When forward progress is halted on behalf of someone not present, conflict erupts and inefficiencies abound.

Craig Freshley on Facebook
Craig Freshley
Group Decision Tips are written by NCDD member Craig Freshley, a long-time meeting facilitator and group process author. Craig invites NCDDers to view all his Tips at www.groupdecisiontips.com, and to share them freely for non-commercial purposes with proper credit to Craig.

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