6 Strategies to Promote New Perspectives

April 10, 2018

As the world changes, effective community engagement has become more important.

Demographic shifts and advances in technology have changed the how, where and when of community engagement. With more opportunities to engage than ever, it’s important to balance the power of new strategies to promote new perspectives.

The Engagement Spectrum

engagement spectrum

Inform (make sure they know what you are doing) to empower to collaborate (stakeholders help make decisions with a full seat at table)

Purpose should drive every effort

It’s easy to start using tools you think will benefit your project, especially if they are new and exciting. New social media platforms, online survey tools—these tools are enticing to use, but can be inefficient if not anchored by your goals. What are your project goals? Who needs to know what and when? Some tools are better for informing. Others are better for generating ideas. Others work better for collaboration. Use the combination of tools that best serves your project and audiences.

Stakeholders want consistency and transparency

Today, with a world of knowledge at our fingertips, we’re used to getting information instantly, whenever and wherever we want it. It’s important to mirror this expectation as best you can in public participation efforts. Timely and accurate updates that are communicated regularly not only make your communications more effective, they build trust. At the same time, be transparent about project constraints—funding, regulations, property impacts and costs—that may impact the project.

Phases of Collaboration
More public participation can yield more conflict. Don't be discouraged. This is a common step as you move toward consensus.

groan zone

More participation can mean more conflict—
and that’s okay

Successful engagement reveals a diversity of opinions. Sometimes differences of opinion are subtle. Other times they are highly diverse. Either way, this process of whittling down and making choices can expose conflict. This is common and should be expected. As you press onward, you’ll find participants will agree more as they make tradeoffs, develop a shared framework and see things alike. Guiding principles or shared values help guide stakeholders to agreement or, at a minimum, consent.

Consensus is not always realistic or appropriate.  But, if stakeholders feel genuinely heard, they are much more likely to be okay with the outcome.
Bonnie Morey, SEH learning and development manager

6 strategies to promote new perspectives

bullet icon

AGREE TO DISAGREE

Be open/willing to say "it's okay to disagree."

bullet icon

BE AWARE OF HOW YOU PHRASE CONVERSATIONS

Phrase discussions more toward the most effective solution(s) instead of the right solution (which implies others are wrong).

bullet icon

REMOVE OWNERSHIP OF IDEAS

When solving problems, encourage the group to list ideas first, then go back to discuss pros and cons. It helps take the "ownership" (my idea or your idea) out of the conversation and turn it into a more neutral problem solving discussion.

bullet icon

RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

Be open to saying "I hadn't thought about it from that perspective... that's interesting..."

bullet icon

ENCOURAGE OPEN DISCUSSION

Encourage others to add more to their suggestion. Example: "That's really interesting, tell me more about...."

bullet icon

ENGAGE YOUR LISTENING SKILLS

Practice active listening and ask open-ended questions to encourage more/deeper conversation.

Download your Quick Reference Guide
to promote new perspectives.

Related Content: 7 Ways to Engage a Team

Wrapping it up

A diverse community helps us learn, grow and benefit from fresh insights. An inclusive culture creates an environment where everyone can feel valued and bring their very best. Promote new perspectives into your next meeting to help foster and environment of inclusion and innovation.

About the Expert

Bonnie Morey

Bonnie Morey is a learning and development manager who recognizes the importance of developing training and initiatives to create and foster an open and inclusive environment. Follow Bonnie on Linkedin

Better Projects 101: Practical Tips

Want a better project? Download our free eBook filled with tips on hiring a consultant, stakeholder engagement, project delivery, project management and more.