What the heck are we talking about?
…consultation, engagement, conversation, involvement, participation…
We use these words all the time, but with little thought to what they actually mean.
from Wikipedia definition “The tradition of a decision-making body getting inputs from those with less power is generally known as “consultation”. This became popular with UK governments during the 1980s and 1990s. Even though most governments that carry out consultations aredemocratically elected, many people who became involved in these processes were surprised that conduct of such “consultations” was unsatisfactory in at least three respects.
1) Groups that already had influence were often the only ones consulted
2) People who did not have the resources to find out would usually not be able to be part of a consultation, even if the decision it was meant to influence might have a major impact on them.
3) There were no agreed safeguards against consultations being used cynically by decision-makers to make it look like they had sought to canvass other opinions, while in fact having set a new policy in place even before it asked the question.”
So here are some good definitions of what these words actually mean:
Public (or Community) Involvement “Effective interactions between professionals, decision-makers, individual and representative stakeholders to identify issues and exchange views on a continuous basis;”
Participation “The extent and nature of activities undertaken by those who take part in public or community involvement;”
Public (or Community) Engagement “Actions and processes taken or undertaken to establish effective relationships with individuals or groups so that more specific interactions can then take place;”
Consultation “The dynamic process of dialogue between individuals or groups, based upon a genuine exchange of views, and normally with the objective of influencing decisions, policies or programmes of action.”
So next time you use the words, make sure that you – and those you are talking to – understand what you mean.