Consultation Fatigue is a cop out: 5 things it’s more likely to be.

It’s 10am on a Saturday and no one’s turned up. You’ve checked your online engagement hub and there’s 12 comments … all from the same 3 people who always comment.

You shrug, sigh, and cite “consultation fatigue”.

But is it?

Probably not. Consultation fatigue is fast becoming a cop out. We use it as an excuse when we can’t get people to pay attention.

Here’s 5 things it’s more likely to be:

  1. Consultation boredom – it’s the same old engagement. Have your say. Attend an information session. Check out our newsletter. If that’s what you’re doing, then people are probably bored rather than inspired. Now is the time to get creative, and to do something different.
  2. The wrong topic – far too often the profession runs engagement projects about things the community doesn’t just care about. The smartest clients engage the community on topics that matter to them. It might be the tricky questions, the controversial, or what’s top-of-mind. Cairns City Council is the best example we’ve seen. They asked the topical questions councils generally don’t ask. And they attracted 9,500 engagements from a population of 160,000 people.
  3. You’ve been engaging the loudest people – if we spend all our efforts in engaging people who shout the loudest, then we perpetuate a culture where we don’t or can’t listen to anyone else. Slowly people just stop coming. It’s not that they don’t want to come, they just can’t bear to be shouted down or intimidated.
  4. You forgot to recognise and reward people for engaging – when we engage people, they give up their time and their energy. And beyond reporting back, very few clients stop to say thank you. Even fewer organisations recognise community members for their contributions.
  5. You’re engaging at the same intensity all the time – organisations are so busy doing engagement, they often don’t have time to stop, analyse and then build a strategy. Let’s be honest; some projects are just not going to attract a high level of interest and nor should they. Instead, spend the time and effort where it matters most.