Most communities need a good listening to and are frustrated when they are not.
Most organisations working in a locality want to engage meaningfully with a broad spectrum of the community and to co-produce services.
My experience as a community development worker was to find this surprisingly hard. There was distrust from citizens who had been over- surveyed or exhaustion from the same few community leaders who go to all the meetings. There was also anxiety and despair in me when I encountered ‘tabloid headline’ views.
I sought a solution. I became a certified facilitator of communication skills and found ways to stay curious and not cut people off. I found that by listening to their experiences in a skilled way, I could identify underlying motivations behind what they said which I could easily relate to. From there we work together to find how they would like to contribute to making changes and what support they need to make change happen.
I offer workshops to frontline staff and community leaders which can help them turn a complaint into a discussion about what really matters to someone:
- from “too many foreigners” to “I want my close family to have housing security”
- from “too many junkies” to “I want my children to be safe from drugs, and people coming off drugs to have places to go in the day”
Organisations experience better customer relations, happier staff and confidence that services are being informed and led by the community.