Stupid, selfish and lazy

A picture speaks a thousand words... Or four

A good friend of mine recently sent me a link to a video of a talk by a guy named Dave Meslin. You can view his talk here.

We’re not normally ones to idly link to other people’s work on our site but his talk about apathy (what it is and what it definitely isn’t) is well worth a watch. We don’t necessarily agree with it all but there are some great points that are worth considering for every local government employee.

Whilst I don’t want to pre-judge your viewing enjoyment there was one thing in there that really struck a bell with me. Towards the end of his talk Dave says that one of the problems is the way we (and here I think he means everyone in Government) think about members of the public.

Too often, we, in the words of Dave, think that members of the public are:




The way we think about the people we serve undoubtedly colours our work.

How often do we stop what we’re doing and re-evaluate our pre-conceptions about the people we work for? Too many times in life I’ve heard people, and sometimes even myself, say things along the lines of:

‘What do they know anyway?’

‘My life would be ok if it wasn’t for the stupid residents’

‘I’d get more work down if it wasn’t for yet another complaint from the councillor’

This isn’t always the case but what if the assumption was the other way round? If our first thought was something like:

‘I’ve just heard something from a resident I didn’t expect; what should I do differently?’

‘My job is to serve the residents first and foremost; if only I didn’t have so much paperwork etc to do I could spend more time providing services for them’

‘Good job the councillor raised that on behalf of their constituent otherwise we might have missed it.’

Maybe I’m overegging the pudding a little but I thought it was a useful corrective to a sometimes easy trap to fall into.

Thanks Dave!

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5 Comments on “Stupid, selfish and lazy”

  1. LG Worker Says:

    Defiantly something to remember when working with Councillors. Quiet often you come across Officers who are ambivalent about Councillors and seem to assume they don’t know anything. Though we forget that as these people come from many walks of life, they often can see things we professionals just miss.

  2. Big K Says:

    A former councillor suggested that she could write a book called ‘The games officers play’. I replied that such a book would be great, we could use it as a manual.

    Sometimes both sides need to remember we are on the same side – trying to do the best for our community. In the main establishing personal relationships seems the best way to break down the us and them posturing.

  3. Ed Hammond Says:

    A councillor once told me wanly that he would have more influence if he was in the majority party.

    “What do you mean?” I said. “Your party’s in power.”

    “No, no.” he said. “I mean the Officer Party.”

    Members, eh? Tchah.

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