If only we had more dialogue... By Anita van Mil


As the complexities of the UK's decision to leave the European Union are mounting and a year of major tragedies and shifts in the global political landscape is drawing to a close I can't help but think 'If only we had more dialogue in society'.

Having toured the country extensively in 2016 for clients including Wellcome Trust and the National Nuclear Laboratory we have seen it coming to some extent.  Engaging members of the public in meaningful conversations around big societal issues revealed some of the sentiments behind the disparity in British society, in particular a sense of despondency and alienation from Government the further away from London we travelled.

As a dialogue company HVM bridges the gap between policy makers and members of the public. The way we go about this is the exact opposite of a referendum or election. Rather than presenting members of the public with a binary process in which there is only a yes or no, this party over another party, we create neutral and productive spaces for constructive discussions.

Facilitation based on trust, kindness and respect alongside excellent process design go a long way in bringing people of opposing views together. Digging one’s heels in, which happens in a binary process, is simply no option in dialogue. The process is all about learning about and from other people’s point of view and often leads to a discovery of common ground that is far more important than what divides people.

Whether we're heading for a 'hard' or a 'soft' Brexit, the Government's direction of travel will only be effective if its policies draw on what is acceptable for both leave and remain voters. More dialogue is not the only answer to the current disparity in UK society but it certainly offers opportunities for healing.

Here's to a 2017 which will stand out in open-mindedness and a willingness to embrace difference.