by Brittany Mason, Specialist: Engagement and Communications
Alright, so, I have to be honest. Most of the time, when I am speaking to a stranger (or even, truth be told, to my family and friends) and I tell them I work in “stakeholder engagement”, I get a lot of blank stares. People have a general knowledge of what those individual words mean, but put together, many don’t really get it. I was once having a conversation with someone, and it took them about 5 minutes to realize that my job isn’t helping a person propose to the love of their life. Though, seriously, how cool would it be to have the job of Professional Proposal Planner?
Anyway, as I’ve had more and more conversations with confused strangers, family members, and friends, I’ve learned to phrase what I do in a (hopefully) more understandable way: my job is to ensure that people are heard so that informed decisions can be made. Sounds easy right? Well, it’s easy in the respect that I love doing it and the pay-off can be huge; however (and you may already know this), people are very unique, and have a lot of different opinions. But while navigating and reporting on differing opinions presents a challenge, it’s actually the part that I really enjoy. I love how Jessica Delaney, Principal, Strategic Communications and Engagement, puts it: sometimes, when people have diverging positions on an issue, they may have the same underpinning values. For example, let’s say you and I have the same walk to work in the morning. Now, I love to sing on my walk to work. I sing at the top of my lungs. Honestly, I’m a terrible singer, but it clears my head before a big day in the office. You, however, like quiet tranquility on your walk to work, and my atrocious singing quite frankly gets in the way of that. Our positions on the matter are very different: I wish I had a microphone to sing louder, and you wish there was a helmet you could put on my head to silence the noise. However, our values about walking to work are pretty similar: we both want to clear our heads during our walk to the office so that we can show up to work ready to hit the ground running. Getting down to people’s shared values allows us to have a more fulsome, open, and informed conversation.
So, as I begin this journey with Engage Delaney, I’m excited to continue helping people be heard, facilitating conversations, and enabling organizations to make better decisions. And all with an amazing and welcoming team – I can’t wait to see what’s in store!