Stop. Look. Listen.
Stop. Look. Listen.

Stop. Look. Listen.

03/12/2020 (Staff Post - Alan McNiven )

2020 has been a year where staying ‘connected’ has never been more important. Online meetings have been a new approach for a lot us and there’s been rules as well as skills we’ve had to quickly learn:


  1. Hunt the ‘full bars’ - Where’s the best connection for a Wi-Fi signal in your house? – I’m told by those I’m in virtual meetings with that my voice, due to a dodgy connection, often dissolves into full-on ‘Dalek mode. So, from time to time I find myself standing in the corner of the kitchen facing the outside wall searching for just the right bandwidth…all that’s missing is the ‘dunce’ cap...
  2. Travel without travelling - How do you put those background things up? – thanks to the power of online meetings I’ve been ‘Zoomed’ (see what I did there?!) to outer space, Caribbean islands and favourite European hot spots as colleagues have disguised their backgrounds to avoid putting away their washing…
  3. Take your wet socks off the radiator.
  4. And finally, - Does the space bar really turn off the mute button? - Many of us have failed to switch off our ‘mute’ as we’ve started to speak in online meetings only to be greeted by colleagues pointing at their ears. I suppose that we should view this gesture as an encouragement to speak up – although I often think my colleagues wish I would leave my ‘mute’ on…


Listening is much more important than speaking of course when we’re seeking to gather views, develop approaches and create services that truly meet the need - but listening properly and trying to understand a variety of voices and views isn’t always easy. In developing potential strategies for engaging with communities to develop local capacity for example, we need to remember that we are entering a complicated arena and failure to recognise this complexity can actually lead to engagement processes which create a sense of miscommunication.


We know that the development of national and local policies in Scotland are often underpinned by a commitment to engage with recognised communities of interest and I would argue that everyone working in the Third Sector would place great store in the need to engage effectively with their networks and with the communities that they support.


As we head towards 2021 all us here at Engage Renfrewshire remain committed to listening, and over the next few weeks we will be reaching out to local groups and organisations within the Third Sector Network to seek their views on the biggest issues facing them next year and how we can help.


We won’t have all the solutions but we will listen.


Pushes space bar – mute on. Checks…yip…definitely on.

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