As a 55-year-old who attended various charitable organization meetings in the 70's, '80's and 00's, and has worked in both the public and private sectors, I have a strong opinion on how to create a consensus. I feel that, at my age, I now have a right to be eccentric and cantankerous or cranky when the situation calls for it.
Political correctness: I feel it has gone way too far, crushing open discussions on the university level and on some political sites. I believe in common courtesy, in tolerance, and in seeking to understand the other's point of view. I have even gone so far as to read some material that I found highly distasteful. I didn't always make it all the way through. In fact, I was a compulsive conciliator. Sometimes it worked with individuals. I learned a lot about the conservative movement and the republican party that way.
I had a supervisor at work who said I wasn't being culturally tolerant when I accused one person of being anti-intellectual and lazy (this person was also dishonest and a champion manipulator--I verified this with a former supervisor and this person's former co-workers on several occasions). I had respect for plenty of other people in this government agency who were from the same ethnic group, and socialized with them on the job. If this worker had been from a different ethnic group and the same qualities were applied, it definitely would have been racism. When a job calls for intellectual effort and team work, and a worker won't make the effort, that worker should be transferred to a more congenial department. This was a case of "political correctness" being misused to protect a person who was intentionally underperforming. So "political correctness" isn't always what it appears to be.
I have been members of 2 organizations (and of one religious congregation) where folks were more interested in throwing their weight around than in promoting the interests of the group. It is very difficult to fight back against that kind of thing. One was a social group for Star Trek hobbyists, the other was a feminist group for students that was taken over by a group of non-feminists who had no interest in daycare or women's rights and wanted to add organizational offices to their resumes so they could transfer to a better school. This organization, quite moderate, languished for a few years, where previously it had thrived.
I attended a required "diversity" training for my government employment. A person with no college or mental health or organizational psychology training led the sessions. She couldn't have been 20 years old. some of the workshops were useful and interesting. But one in particular, "how to gain consensus", was a complete waste of time. She would ask how we would achieve certain goals. I suggested that people posit solutions. She stated that this would be forcing opinions onto other people. Another woman, much milder in manner than I, though I had been quite polite, suggested the same thing in other language. The same response. This happened again later in the meeting. The reasonable, rational folks in the meeting all came to the same conclusion, "You cannot solve problems if you cannot suggest solutions." The "process" forcefully put forward by the corporate employee at the meeting can only have one conclusion: stagnation. Utter, total, abysmal stagnation. And at many agencies in that local government, problems are "solved" by having high level supervisors attend meetings, receive information they find highly interesting and pertinent, and then they make absolutely no attempt to use that information. What good is information on ergonomics or worker safety if the rules or changes or never implemented, even when they cost nothing or might save money in the long and short run?
None of the feminist or democratic party meetings I ever attended ever had that sort of "no-solution is the solution" outlook. the whole thing is a scam: get people to vent, and they will think the problem is solved. Then do absolutely nothing constructive. Maintain the status quo at all costs, even if it is highly dysfunctional.
One other problem I have noticed in both social organizations and in employment, and also, unfortunately, in the U.S. political system: a pervasive "us vs. them" mentality. If you won't even recognize the other side as consisting of human beings with rights, dignities, and possibly good ideas worthy of consideration, you can't work out a solution, because if you won't talk to them, you can't negotiate, compromise or horse trade. And that's how things get done. So we either have stagnation, or the good things get thrown out with.the bath water. Democracies and republics and reform thrive on fruitful
, respectful controversy and contention.
And that's my two cents' worth.