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'Talking truth in a post-truth world’

I just bought a book, which I am sure withholds the answer to most of the world’s problems. It’s entitled A matter of fact: talking truth in a post-truth world’.

The genius, Jess Berentson-Shaw says “I knew, and know still, that there is good science and bad science, misinformation and reliable information, truth and falsehood, and also much grey in between…But being more adamant, more right, having more facts, was not helping. It was possibly even the problem.” The crux of the book is about the need for better communication and inclusiveness using empathy.


My excitement to find this ‘mental-twin’ of mine was followed with a wonderful feeling of calm. I couldn’t agree with her more and I haven’t even read the book yet!


Everything Jess is touching on in the introductory notes is what social licence is all about. When it comes to value conflicts, contentious issues and just functioning as an inclusive society it can be challenging but no one is exempt from that. I battle with being a good human at least once a day. But if we humanise our thought process and delivery e.g. crank up the empathy and ‘be a good human’ we can be self-aware enough to catch our below the line behaviours and biases in real time and wrangle it back into our baggage backpack. All it takes is considered monitoring to keep our egos in check, our self-worth filled to the brim and keeping our wellbeing tank full.

We’re all imperfect beings trying to make the best of our lot. If we can keep our empathy as the driver in everything we do, we might just be able to have more open and constructive conversations that build a higher-level of trust in society.

“The irony is that talking truth actually involves not talking at all. It’s about listening,” Jess says. Being inclusive requires a genuine desire to engage and listen. If we are wanting to influence a conversation or group who are either misinformed or just have different values to ourselves, the first thing you naturally want to do is tell them your view. Please don’t. Start with an open-ended question and listen.


Part of rebuilding social licence is about building strong stakeholder relationships that have a win-win-win for all parties involved. A win for you, a win for them and a win for the affected party. Turning problems into solutions requires collaboration and diverse perspectives and you need to create a safe space for those to be shared, requiring less talking and more listening.


It frightens me how elusive truth is today and how we all fall afoul to the echo chambers of information. One thing we can control is our ability to be good humans and listening to each other with empathy. Now I’m off to dive into Jess’s book. I’ll update you next week on my findings.

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© 2019 by Penny Clark-Hall of Social Licence Consulting. All rights reserved.

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