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Consultation is a new skill we’re all learning; unique for the first time in religious history, so it’s obvious that we all have far to go!

I hope this checklist will give you some idea of how well you are doing; and identify some areas you need to work on.

I recommend you print this off, and as you go through this list, put a checkmark

  • in the right margin for everything you’re doing well
  • in the left margin for every area you need to work on

Then add them up at the end to see how well you’re doing.

Aggression:

  • Do you dominate the conversations?
  • Do you quarrel with anybody about anything?
  • Do you dispute with any one about the things of this world?
  • Do you argue back and forth and maintain that your point of view is the right one?
  • Is your tone of voice harsh?
  • Does anyone find your tone or approach threatening?
  • Is anyone afraid of your threats or violent outbursts?

 Attitudes towards Consultation:

  • Do you agree to participate in consultation when asked?
  • Do you carry out consultation in all your affairs?
  • Do you take every important step in life with consultation?
  • Do you look at consultation as a skill you need to develop?

Attitudes towards Others:

  • Do you see everyone as your friends?
  • Do you look for people to consult with whenever you have a problem?
  • Do you value the opinions of women?
  • Do you encourage and value the opinions of the most lowly, untutored and inexperienced people?
  • Do you allow difference of opinion to separate you from others?
  • Do you show love, patience, and understanding for the weaknesses of others?
  • Do you encourage others?
  • Do you focus on your own development instead of finding fault with others?
  • Are you wholly free from estrangement?

Attitudes towards the Institutions:

  • Do you participate in consultation at the Feast?
  • Do you look forward to this happy period of discussion at the Feast?
  • Do you offer your suggestions, recommendations or criticism to the Assembly, to help improve and remedy existing conditions or trends?
  • Do you consult with Assemblies or Auxiliary Board Members on matters that affect the interests of the Faith?
  • Do you willingly turn to the Local Spiritual Assembly for advice and guidance?
  • Are you afraid to take issues to your Assembly or Auxiliary Board?
  • Do you have any feelings of fear, alienation or resentment towards members of the Institutions of the Faith?
  • Do you turn to the Assembly before taking someone to court?
  • Do you whole-heartedly accept the advice or decision of the Assembly?
  • Do you air your criticisms in the community instead of taking them to the Assembly?
  • Do you continually challenge and criticize the decisions of the Assembly?
  • Do you belittle the decisions of the Assembly?

Attitudes during Consultation (Positive):

  • Is your attitude a spiritual one?
  • Do you put the interests of the Cause first?
  • Do you concentrate your attention on the most important and pressing issues?
  • Do you postpone all secondary matters until the primary tasks are performed?
  • Do you consult in a spirit that is frank and loving?
  • Is love and fellowship the foundation for your consultation?
  • Is your spirit radiant?
  • Do you look at everyone as equals?
  • Do you see everyone as noble?
  • Do you show regard for the interests of others?
  • Have you got an open, receptive mind?
  • Do you encourage a diversity of ideas?
  • Do you allow an open examination of fears and misconceptions?
  • Do you carefully consider the views already advanced by others?
  • When you find that a previously expressed opinion is more true and worthy, do you accept it immediately?

 Attitudes during Consultation (Negative):

  • Do you get caught up in personalities?
  • Are there any ill feelings present when you are consulting?
  • Are your consultations a battleground of opposition and self-opinion?
  • Are there altercations or useless quibbling when you are consulting?
  • Do you engage in fruitless, hair-splitting discussions?
  • Do you insist that your views are the only correct ones?
  • Do you become upset if someone contradicts you?
  • Do you take offense to someone else’s opinions?
  • Do you dispute over matters in the Bahá’í teachings?
  • Do you use a dictatorial authority voice or approach?
  • Do you wield arbitrary power?
  • Do you dispute idly?
  • Do you seek to advance yourself over others?
  • Do you willfully hold on to an opinion of your own?
  • Do you show pride or superiority toward anyone?
  • Do you look upon others with scorn and contempt?
  • Do you deprive anyone of their opinions or their right to speak?
  • Do you object to or censure any decisions arrived at previously?
  • Do you quarrel and contend with others about Baha’i laws and ordinances?
  • Is your heart filled with suspicion and contempt?
  • Do you insist on your own opinion?
  • Are you stubborn and persistent in your views?

Decision Making:

  • Do you make all decisions prayerfully?
  • Do you allow for differing opinions?
  • Do you take your authority from the Baha’i Writings?
  • Are you patient with the discussions and deliberations?
  • Do you diagnose the disease, identify the malady and prescribe the prescription?
  • Do you allow the will of the majority to prevail?
  • Do you unhesitatingly respect and obey the decisions?

Detachment

  • Have you let go of all preconceived ideas?
  • Have you identified and let go of your prejudices?
  • Have you let go of the need to be right?
  • Have you let go of stubbornness and persistence in your own views?
  • Have you let go of feeling hurt if someone has an opposite view?
  • Have you let go of giving offense or taking offense?
  • Have you let go of all aggression as a means to solve problems?
  • Have you learned to forget personalities?
  • Have you overcome the desire to take sides?
  • Have you put the past behind you?
  • Do you set aside every personal sense of grievance – justified or unjustified – for the good of the Cause?
  • Do you suppress every harsh word?

Fact-Finding:

  • Do you gather and present facts?
  • Do you identify relevant spiritual principles?
  • Do you thoroughly investigate all matters before coming to a decision?
  • Do you verify your facts or rely on the opinion of others?
  • Do you consider women’s intuition as valid?
  • Do you giving due importance to networking and cooperation?
  • Do you search diligently for the truth?

Gossip and Backbiting:

  • Do you backbite, gossip or share confidences?
  • Do you keep strict confidentiality?

 Listening:

  • Do you listen to everyone’s opinion?
  • Do you listen with love?
  • Do you let people finish their thoughts before jumping in with your own?
  • Do you encourage others to speak while you listen?
  • Have you understood everything that has been said?
  • Do you think about what you’ve heard in silence, instead of answering right away?
  • Do you feel comfortable with silence instead of having a ready answer or witty comeback?

Motives:

  • Are your motives pure?
  • Is your motive to arrive at a solution to a problem?
  • Is your motive to reach a joint decision?
  • Is your motive to arrive at unity and truth?
  • Is your motive to be of service to God?
  • Is the object of your consultation to find truth?
  • Is the object of your consultation to have a platform for your own self-opinion?
  • Are you concerned about your reputation?

Reliance on God:

  • Do you have faith in the system of Baha’u’llah?
  • Do you remember to turn towards God?
  • Have you asked God for help?
  • Do you look for God’s Divine Fragrances?
  • Do you completely rely on the power of God?
  • Do you look for solutions in the Baha’i Writings?
  • Do you refer to quotes from the Baha’i Writings?
  • Do you leave the results in God’s hands?
  • When differences arise, do you behold God standing before your face, and overlook the faults of others for His sake?
  • If people don’t accept the Words of God, do you turn away and leave them to God?

Participation

  • Do you ask other people to speak for you?
  • Do you encourage people to speak for themselves?
  • Do you speak your truth?
  • Have you set forth your own opinion?
  • Have you added your opinion as a contribution to the whole?
  • Are the thoughts you’re expressing your own?

Speech:

  • Do you use good judgement in how much or how little you speak?
  • Do you belittle the thoughts of other people?
  • Are you moderate in setting forth your truth?
  • Have you expressed your views frankly, calmly and without passion or rancour?
  • Are your words kind and loving?
  • Do you give unsolicited advice?
  • Are the words you use as mild as milk?
  • Do people feel nurtured and edified by what you have to say?
  • Are your words negative and discouraging?
  • Are your words sweet enough to raise the tone of the consultation?
  • Do you say things to other people that you wouldn’t want to hear yourself?
  • Do people understand what you’re saying?
  • Is your tone of voice moderate?
  • Do you express your views with care and moderation?
  • Do you exercise restraint when talking?
  • Do you speak only of things that are meet and seemly?
  • Do you exercise self-discipline in your speech?
  • Do you carefully deliver your comments at the right time and place?
  • Are you aware of the impression your words have on others?
  • Do you gear your comments to the capacity of those you’re speaking with?
  • Do you speak the truth?
  • Do you make promises you can’t fulfill?
  • Do you remain silent at the least trace of controversy?
  • Do you raise questions in a manner which avoids dispute?
  • Do you present your ideas calmly and without passion or rancor?
  • Do you refrain from mentioning subjects which have led to misunderstanding and disunity in the past?

Thoughts:

  • Do you hold onto hatred and strife?
  • Do you feel superior to anyone?
  • Do you suppress every critical thought and every harsh word?
  • Are you kind in your thoughts?
  • Do you forget your internal disturbances and rush to the rescue of humanity?

Unity

  • Do you gather together everyone who is affected, so that you can arrive at a collective decision?
  • Do you include your children in family consultations?
  • Do you see yourself as the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, and the flowers of one garden?
  • Do you find ways to help everyone participate?
  • Do you welcome differences of opinion?
  • Do you include the ideas of those whose opinions differ from yours?
  • Do you draw out the constructive ideas of everyone and use them for the benefit of the whole?
  • Do you work towards finding unity of thought?
  • Do you encourage ways to implement spiritual principles so that unity is preserved?
  • Do you recognize that there are many roads to truth?
  • Do you allow diversity of thought to separate you from others?

Virtues:

  • Are you detached from everything save God?
  • Are you humble, meek and lowly?
  • Are you patient and long suffering in difficulties?
  • Are you courteous and considerate of others?
  • Are love and fellowship the foundation of your consultations?
  • Do you teach others about the love of God and the need for love towards others?
  • Are your words courteous?
  • Do you speak with dignity?

How well did you do?

Now that you’ve added up your score, here are some resources which you might find helpful:

How Do We Create a Climate of Encouragement?

Encouraging Universal Participation

Letting Go of Fault-Finding, Blame and Accusation

Learning How to Forgive

Letting Go of Anger

 

How has this helped you understand consultation better? Post your comments below!