Tips from the Trainers: Richard Delaney

In each newsletter, a Canadian P2 trainer shares an insight or tip for better P2 practice. This month, we welcome Richard Delaney of Delaney and Associates. 

Richard spent 15 years as a senior manager in the Federal Government in the areas of land management, environmental assessment and eventually public consultation before founding Delaney + Associates in 1996. He has a background in forestry and post grad in public policy and administration. He is a Certified Professional Facilitator who has conducted well over 250 engagements in his career to date. His strength sectors are health, municipal government and natural resources. Aside from the IAP2 courses he delivers a 2-day Facilitating Engagement course and a 1-day Engagement Bootcamp.

Demonstrating engagement values

A real challenge to engagement can be getting participants to your engagements. Aside from promoting this means demonstrating you will genuinely listen. Is this possible for the uninitiated? Read on …

Consultation is more than a commitment to listen, it’s being influenced by the feedback; but you’re still in control, so let’s break this down into manageable steps.

Step One – Making a commitment to be influenced

In order for a corporate or public authority to commit to acting on advice they receive from interested parties they must first assert their limits of authority to making the decision. Then they must clearly state the decision to be made, define the timeline and process for decision-making then outline how, when and to what extent the authority will be influenced. Literately every large organization with a policy on engagement has a spectrum on engagement that both helps them decide the level of their commitment to be influenced and then communicate it to their stakeholders. These generally run from advise / inform / educate all the way up to empower / delegate / assign.

Step Two – Receiving advice

The tricky part about this element is not so much the advice as it is the receiving. Let’s face it, most organizations don’t engage well. Because these relationships aren’t well-established means channels of communication between and amongst the parties don’t exist. Creating these channels of communication relate directly to the styles, preferences and limitations of the parties and not to preferred means of communication, as chosen by the decider. Only after the channels have been established can the questions be asked, confirmation they are understood and then a response documented.

Step Three – Genuinely listen

Once the channels of communication (forums, workshops, web-based, telephone, etc) are established a good principle to follow is to assume the message has been received only upon confirmation. People and organizations have filters and lens that distort messaging, both giving and getting. In a face-to-face context that means paraphrasing, online it’s similar, as an organization we recommend that a “what was heard” report be provided as soon as possible, and only after confirmation does it become a “what was said” document. At the bottom of all of this is listening empathetically – which means making the effort to understand the positions, interests and values that underlay stakeholders’ communication. When you are listening empathetically you have made good on your commitment to listen.

Contact Richard at delaney@rmdelaney.com 

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