Growing up in my alcoholic home, no matter what the issue was, whoever yelled the loudest won. By forcing solutions, I set myself up for many battles throughout my life. When I arrived at Al‑Anon, I met people who demonstrated respect for one another. In the group setting, they held business meetings where they talked to each other and reasoned things out. The collective wisdom of the group led to decisions. They called this process the group conscience.

Although groups are within their autonomy to handle their business as they choose, many members have found that holding a business meeting to discuss matters often works best. Some simple matters (like who will lead the next meeting) can be resolved quickly, while other topics (such as changing the day or time of the meeting) require a more thorough discussion with input from all who choose to participate.

The newly expanded “Group Business” chapter in the “Groups at Work” section of the 2018-2021 Al‑Anon/Alateen Service Manual (P-24/27) encourages members to learn from the experiences of other Al‑Anon and Alateen groups regarding how they handle their group business. Warranty Three in Concept Twelve speaks of the spiritual principles involved in making decisions, which include discussion, voting and, whenever possible, unanimity.

Applying the Twelve Traditions and Concepts of Service helps keep the guiding principles of the group conscience in the discussion. As a result, the decision often evolves from the discussion and a vote is not needed. It’s important to the unity of the group that those members who don’t agree with the decision have the opportunity to be heard, but also are at least willing to support the group conscience. If a decision cannot be reached, the group members need to continue the discussion at additional meetings. Holding principle-based discussions leads to spiritually based decisions.

Members have shared that, occasionally, differing viewpoints cause conflict and divert the discussion from its primary purpose. The World Service Office publishes several service tools to help groups address such conflict. The Using Al‑Anon Principles to Resolve Conflicts Kit (K-70) has three components, which are also sold individually. Loving Interchange to Resolve Conflict Wallet Card (S-71), Conflict Resolution using our Twelve Traditions (S-72) and Talk to Each Other—Resolving Conflicts within Al‑Anon (S-73) offer tips to aid members and groups in making decisions that are in accordance with our spiritual principles. By applying these principles, I no longer feel the need to force solutions. I communicate in a more thoughtful and civilized manner because I have found serenity.

Sharon B., Senior Group Services Specialist

The Forum, September 2018