Amanda Mitchell, IAP2 Canada Board Director; Public Engagement Specialist, City of Vancouver
“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
― Roy T. Bennett, author, The Light in the Heart
The thing that has been occupying my mind as of late is the current state of the world.
Regardless of your politics, the last few months have felt increasingly turbulent. The divisive American election has left an eddy in the calm that is being felt north of the border. Positions are becoming increasingly entrenched and the very social platforms that promised to bring us together have created echo chambers.
Dialogue between people with differing opinions is more important than ever right now, which is where engagement practitioners can help.
As engagement practitioners, we are trained to create safe spaces where people can come together and share their opinions. To foster dialogue that moves beyond positions, and towards values and common ground. To bring facts and data into the decision-making process. To ensure that everyone affected by a decision is involved and to create processes where the ultimate decision reflects not just the needs of the majority, but also is mindful of the needs of those who are underrepresented. As IAP2 proclaims, decisions are better when all viewpoints are considered.
In service to the goal of improving the practice of public participation, IAP2 Canada offers many opportunities to brush up on skills, learn new ones or connect with other engagement practitioners. Get out to a local chapter event, join us for a webinar, read through the research papers that have been commissioned, or come to Denver in September for the annual conference.
These next few years may challenge our values and perspectives. As you no doubt know, engagement work is not always easy. Make sure to practice self-care and take time for yourself to recharge. This isn’t an indulgence, but a necessity. It isn’t possible to be in service when you are feeling burnt out.