I’m Sorry to Tell You This
One key principle of crisis communication and outrage management is the ability to sincerely, skillfully and effectively apologize. According to Canadian researchers (from LiveScience.com) it turns out that women apologize more because they feel their actions more often require an apology. As Saturday Night’s Seth Meyers would say, ‘Really’?! It’s not that men are less willing to admit fault, it’s that we apparently set the bar higher in what we think requires an apology. When we think we’re wrong both sexes apologize 81 percent of the time. Men just think they do fewer things wrong.
And now we learn that Dick Cheney never apologized to Harry Whittington (according to Harry), the guy that Dick shot while quail hunting in South Texas. Harry actually apologized to “Mr. Cheney and his family” for all the adverse attention, but although Dick conceded he’d pulled the trigger, he never apologized to Harry. You’d think that shooting somebody in the face would warrant a quick, “my bad”, or maybe a fruit basket.
How People Are Persuaded
I’ve heard it said that persuasion belongs in the fields of PR and lobbying but has no place in authentic public participation, but I don’t buy it. People need to be persuaded to participate and people need to be persuaded to look at issues objectively and reasonably to make informed judgments and decisions. One of my first influencers was Dr. Robert Cialdini who authored a groundbreaking work called Influence. He’s done a lot of work around motivation and marketing but the psychology is applicable to many situations. Three basic human goals are keys to understanding what influences and persuades each us.
Bad Meetings are Good Meetings, the Rule of Three, or Not Showing Up
I get calls from people asking for help, guidance or facilitation because they’re facing a ‘bad’ meeting (their words) and they’re scared and want someone to make it a nice meeting (my words). One of the first things that I have to do is explain that conflict is ok because conflict is life. Meetings can be good ways of resolving conflict and by trying to avoid or stifle conflict you’re probably just moving it or delaying it which means it’ll probably grow. The role of a facilitator is essentially to create a safe space for people to work out differences. So don’t be so afraid of bad meetings.
In media, spokesperson and presentation training we frequently refer to the development of only three key messages. Lots of times clients object to this as a limit and wonder why we can’t have five or more key messages. The reasoning is simple: people are able to remember roughly three distinct things from any event, lecture, meeting, book or article. It’s just a really good rule of thumb and also applicable to the internal or external meetings that you’re running.
One other thing that might improve your meeting is you not showing up.
If you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.
OK, I’m stealing a line from Seinfeld who was talking about our innate fear of public speaking. But it’s a real thing! Admit it, even seasoned speakers and those who many of consider to be ‘hams’ most often have some anxiety about speaking to groups of people. At a recent small event I watched a speaker literally shake for the ten minutes of his presentation, he wasn’t having a fun day. I hope he reads this.
Recently we have been customizing and delivering internal employee engagement training and workshops to help managers and HR people do a better job of involving their workers in the future direction, decisions and operations of businesses and public agencies. Research and evidence tells us that employees expect to have more of a say in the workplace than they have in the past. That makes for happier, more loyal and more stable workers and managers, and better decisions by senior management smart enough to take advantage of the intellectual capitol that they already have. Here’s a quick take on the subject.
If you’re going through hell, keep going
Winston Churchill said that. Most things that Churchill said were remarkable and inspirational. I’m reminded of this fact now at the height of campaign season while we’re all enjoying these non-stop inspirational candidate ads. I’m not naïve enough to wish for a Churchill but a few minor heroes would be nice. He’s the guy that I usually mention when asked, ‘What person – living or dead – would you most like to meet’, I’ve always viewed him as a patron saint of conflict and crisis.
This week I’m delivering the two day IAP2 Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation course in Chicago, and then it’s off to Johannesburg to teach this particular course in South Africa for the first time. We’re planning dates and locations for this course in 2011and booking in-house classes, so if you have some interest or suggestions about where you’d like to see it delivered shoot me an email jdg@GodecRandall.com
We’ve set some 2011 dates for the IAP2 Certificate course in Public Participation:
February 28-March 4 Orlando, Florida; March 14-18 St Louis, Missouri; April 4-8 San Antonio, Texas; May 9-13 Denver, Colorado; July 11-15 Chicago, Illinois; and October 3-7 Santa Fe, New Mexico.
For folks working for BLM or other federal agencies, we’ll be offering the IAP2 Certificate in Public Participation course from Monday, January 24 – Friday, January 28, 2011, at BLM’s National Training Center in Phoenix. It’s free to BLMers and may be open to other federal employees if there’s space available.
It’s a great foundational course for anyone working in public involvement, public affairs, communications or public policy. And face it, can you think of a better place to be than Arizona at the end of January?