There have been a few projects in the media of late where community groups have lamented a lack of consultation on projects prior to delivery. Many of these projects have centred on construction and development but a few have involved policy development in areas as diverse as energy, water supply and even the definition of marriage. However diverse the topics, one thing stood out as being in common.
In community engagement, we talk a lot about collecting people’s ideas and feedback. We talk about the power of active listening. But, if you really believe in community and engaging at a deeper, more meaningful level, then empathy should be the key focus throughout your planning, strategising and most importantly-engagement activity.
I recently had the pleasure of travelling throughout the Surat Basin in south west Queensland with a client of Articulous for a week, facilitating community information sessions. There were a few key lessons that I took away from that week that I thought were worth sharing, purely from a practical perspective.
The level of animosity in public discourse seems to be at an all-time high. So how can we ensure than we communicate effectively, yet steer away from inflammatory rhetoric?
There are workshops that conjure up images of a dreary room full of disinterested people, negative attitudes, poor outcomes and bad coffee. I’m going tell you how to avoid running one of these workshops, ever again.
Some people thrive on blank slates. Others respond better if they are given context, background and solutions. Either way you need to know your objectives and stimulate the conversation.
"Backflip". It's become the ultimate criticism of Government, an easy, almost flippant attack wielded by media, oppositions and disaffected interested groups.
New York is intricate, alive, passionate, and evolving. What became clearer to me on this journey was how the decisions of the community can have long-lasting and positive effects on a city’s identity.