The Magnet – Are some people more suited to the practice of consultation ?
A woman I know is a Samaritan.
Whether by instinct or by training, she is remarkably good at listening. People want to tell her their feelings; they will readily unburden before her. And although she seldom offers solutions, her ability to respond empathetically often makes her confidante feel a lot better. Like others in many voluntary bodies, she succeeds fundamentally because she cares.
The analogy with public and stakeholder consultation is strong. Those of us charged with organising a listening exercise are regularly faced with a credibility barrier. It is not that people or community groups don’t have views; they just lack confidence that anyone will genuinely listen to them. They see public bodies consulting because the law says they must …or because the Audit Commission gives them more stars …. or because it is now fashionable to do so. What they crave for is a consultor who passionately wants to hear what they have to say.