We all speak, write and make decisions based on our own experience – and we tend to walk around assuming everyone sees the world pretty much as we do. It can be kind of shocking to realise how different other people’s perspectives and values can be.

That’s why we need input from people with different viewpoints to deliver good outcomes for the community. And one of the key ways to do this is through the elected members’ decision-making process.

This puts extra responsibility on us when we write reports about issues we have been thinking about for months or years. We need to write what our readers want and need to hear before making a decision, rather than being limited by our own perspective.

Here’s an experiment to try, to see from other people’s point of view, before getting started on a report.

1.         Draft a couple of paragraphs about the topic you need to write about.

2.         Identify three or four elected members at your council with distinctly different viewpoints. Jot down a few notes about:

  • how long they have been on council (e.g. whether this is their first or fourth term on council)
  • their background before becoming a councillor (e.g. business, community or other experiences)
  • any priorities or values they have expressed around the council table.

3.         Decide on one question each of these elected members might want to ask staff at the meeting.

4.         Come up with a comment each of these elected members might want to make at the meeting to influence the decision.

Doing this will help you to identify what background information to include in your report, or extra options to include in your analysis. It should also help you to be well-prepared for the questions you receive at the council meeting.