21. Habit #6: Encourage Objections

This page is part of the Holacracy Habits series.

Starting today you have a new habit to practice: Encourage Objections.

This habit is necessary because your circle's comfort with objections and integrations is the biggest factor in determining your experience of governance meetings. You could even say one's comfort with raising objections is equal to one's comfort with Holacracy.

This habit is just about doing things to make raising and testing objections more comfortable than they are now. That’s all. Because even for experienced groups, objection rounds can sometimes feel tense. So, how do you encourage objections if you are not the Facilitator? Well, here are some concrete examples:

As Proposer: Encourage objections explicitly. Specifically, you could say something like, “…and if anyone has an objection, please raise it and we’ll figure it out through integration.”

This can go a long way to making everyone feel more comfortable. Let others know through your tone and body language that you won’t take it personally, and, more accurately, your willingness to propose something is depending on them to raise their objections.

As Objector: If you feel some tension about a proposal, any tension, then raise an objection. But use the phrase, “I’d like to try an objection.” Or saying, “I might have an objection…” or, “I think I have an objection…” are equally good. The whole objection-testing process is one of discovery. Throw something out there and use the Facilitator's questions to help you lock into the objection you're sensing. Plus, be prepared to discover your objection is invalid. It's only invalid according to the criteria defined in the constitution; it doesn't mean that what you're feeling is invalid. You aren’t wasting time by raising an invalid objection. You’re someone who, even despite your discomfort, is trying to protect the organization. That’s commendable.

As a Circle Member: Be patient. Think of objections simply as requests for integration. That’s all they are. Requests to have a discussion. You might not think a discussion is necessary in any given case, but since the opportunity is available to everyone, be patient and let others take their turn. Unlike a conventional meeting, mentally checking out because your roles aren’t involved can actually show respect.

As Facilitator: Obviously, your role is critical. For now, just two bits of advice. One, read off of the objection testing card to test objections. Those questions have evolved over countless meetings. You don't have to be an expert if you use the questions on the card.

Second, remember the golden rule of testing objections, it’s far better to let in an invalid objection than to push out a valid one. Integrating an invalid objection means you are integrating two tensions at once. You're still resolving the original proposer’s tension no matter what. An objection, even a valid one, can never stop someone else from solving their issue. However, if you dismiss, push out, exclude, or otherwise ignore a valid objection, then you've introduced harm by definition. You solved one tension but created another one. You're going one step forward, one step back. No meeting might have been better.

In closing, this habit is about learning how to use objections and to get just slightly more comfortable with them. So you can see how they, like a weird trust fall, actually convey and build trust.

So, go ahead and try it. Anything you can do to encourage objections or make them less awkward is a step in the right direction.