When we find ourselves arguing in black and white terms, it’s time to find the gray. Practicing scales is a quick way to get a read about where someone stands on a continuum. It’s useful for seeing that disagreements that sound polarized are usually conversations with more nuance.
We can practice scales by asking ourselves and them questions like, “On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to your solution as the best possible solution?” and “On a scale of 1-10, how sure are you that your knowledge about this is accurate?” and “On a scale of 1-10, how open are you to additional ways of thinking about this problem?”
Try 3 levels of consensus
Hammering out deep and genuine consensus has its place. It’s also time-consuming and requires significant dedication to the idea of true consensus. For decisions that don’t require everyone’s 100% deep buy-in, three levels of consensus will do.
A quick way to measure where everyone stands is with the thumb:
- Thumbs up means, “I’m on board.”
- Thumbs out (picture a fist with palm facing downward and thumb pointing out to the side) means, “I have a few doubts but I can live with it.”
- Thumbs down means “I’m not ready to agree to this yet.”
Alternatively, use numbers: 1 = thumb up, 2 = thumb out, 3 = thumb down.
If all thumbs are up or out (or all 1s and 2s), you’re done. If there are any thumbs down, then continue the search for understanding and solutions that address their interests and concerns.