The call for politicians to ‘get real’ and ‘go public’ is more than just about winning elections. Officials can design engagement spaces to better suit those needs.

This week, the Deputy NSW Premier John Barilaro warned that politicians need to ditch their fancy suits, put their jeans on and connect with everyday people. Normally, such unsolicited cross-party fashion advice would have ruffled feathers but the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian (pictured above), appears to agree.

Getting out of the political bubble and connecting to everyday people, it turns out, is not just about surviving election battles. It helps our leaders make better collective decisions, according to research we conducted with 51 senior politicians with ministerial experience in the Australia, UK, NZ, Canada and the US.

Most of us would laugh out loud at the idea that our political leaders are genuinely interested in interacting and listening to everyday citizens. We would scoff at the idea that politicians might find our views insightful, even useful for their decision-making. And on the idea that politicians want more (not less) opportunities to meet with citizens, we would say, ‘Come on … really?’

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