#MONTHLYMYTH: DISTRUST IS DUE TO A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING

MosaicLab monthly myth - why community members don't trust decisions

Our May #MonthlyMyth focuses on an assumption that is often made about the community by managers, project leads and technical 'experts'.  

Ever heard someone in your organisation or project team say something like the following? 

  • 'If only they understood X, Y or Z, they would see we were right'
  •  'The only reason they don't like the decision is that they don't understand the complexities of this issue/project.'
  • 'They don't support the decision because they don't have the expertise/skills to understand it.'

These kind of statements are all indications of a potentially risky, yet common assumption that community opposition or distrust is based on ignorance or incapacity. 


MYTH:

People don't trust the decision or the decision makers because they don't understand the issue, information, rationale or opportunity. 


IN REALITY

Distrust is rarely bred through a lack of understanding.  Instead, it tends to be based on any number of other issues ranging from a history of expectations not being met or limited influence being offered through to a lack of clear communication around project parameters. 

Give everyday people time and information (generously and genuinely) and you will be amazed at their capacity to deliver robust and bold decisions/recommendations.   The key is engaging early, offering time to tackle the problem together (rather than offering a solution for comment at the end), allowing for reflection, providing all the relevant information, and (of course!) professional facilitation to ensure you get the most out of every process. 

Assuming that there is a lack of understanding and moving on to the next project can be the worst decision possible - not only will the community in question be left feeling disappointed and potentially outraged in relation to your current project, but this resentment will carry over into the next process you try to engage them in. 

Want to learn more about the ability of everyday citizens to grapple with complex topics and in-depth information?  Check out our February #MonthlyMyth here which further explores this topic.