Underlying any effective MSP is the capacity for people to communicate with each other in an open, respectful, honest, empathetic and critical way. This requires the capacities of being able to listen to others and of clearly articulating your own perspectives and ideas.
Effective communication is influenced and challenged by a broad range of issues, ranging from the paradigms people use to make sense of the world and the habits of conversation to emotional responses becoming dominant and a lack of trust or the existence of conflict.
MSPs address complex problems, which can only be solved peacefully if the people at the heart of the problem work together to develop a shared understanding of their situation and together create something new. This turns weak basic communication skills into a barrier to multi-stakeholder collaboration and capacity development in this area as a foundation for effective MSPs.
If an MSP is to make a difference it needs to find ways of getting people to engage with each other’s’ perspectives: this means communicating in a way in which they suspend their judgments, listen to each other’s’ views, understand them (even if they don’t agree) as well as the underlying needs and assumptions. Through talking, people create and re-create social worlds. So creating a better world means becoming better at communicating. This means developing skills and habits and cultures of communication which are more effective and get past these limitations.
To facilitate effective communication, it is crucial to engage stakeholders in questioning how they communicate, listen and try to define, as well as how they judge and integrate their perceptions in the way the communicate. Besides, stakeholders can be brought together using a variety of tools that foster different types of dialogue, ranging from debate to non-violent communication. The selected articles provide some promising point of departures.