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You’re Special Just for Being You

In an age of high tech/low touch communication, we’re spending most of this month on interpersonal traits that seem to be getting lost in the email, posts and tweets that most of us are becoming more accustomed to. As such, I think you’ll find something useful and/or interesting in this month’s tidbit selection.

I might also mention that we have a few seats still available for next week’s IAP2 Foundations course in Arlington, VA.  So click and sign up below…Doug needs a new snow blower.

Godec

The Truth Is Out There  

If you are a Superman comic fan, you’d probably agree that some political campaigns are like living in Bizzaro World where up is down and right is left. The following article refers to a condition called “motivated reasoning,” a fancy, academic term for believing made-up crap that you know is fabricated but you decide to believe anyway. “Belief echoes” describes the influence that this B.S. has on us even when we know it is crap.

The new X-Files series reminds us that the truth is out there — we just have to help people keep looking for it…

http://tinyurl.com/z86upyt

Start Talking to Yourself at Work  

The lady was livid, explaining in great detail what an arrogant S.O.B she thought he was. All the while she was waving a printed copy of the email he’d sent to her in his face. From his perspective, it was factual and professional. After reading it out loud, however, he understood why it made her feel like he was talking down to her in a bureaucratic, snotty tone.

So, when you’re writing an email, try reading it out loud to yourself – no really! People might think you’re going goofy but it will help to tell you how it’s going to sound in the head of the reader. Try it:

http://tinyurl.com/jzdjc8s

Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful  

Research says that narcissistic personality traits are rising just as fast as obesity rates. Even if you aren’t a narcissist, you probably know one and learning to deal with them is a good thing.  Maybe this will help…

http://tinyurl.com/jt8esjw

It Ain’t Easy Being a Fed  

Working in government has never been especially easy. However, it’s tougher now than ever before. With a jacked-up political system, a generally angry public and the internal brain drain of retiring baby boomers, we’ve got a whole new crop of people entering the public sector. Now is a good time to revisit the Paradoxical Commandments of the Federal Government:

http://tinyurl.com/ho8ebrg

Internal Communication According to Google  

Amit Singh is president of Google for Work. Here’s what you’re doing wrong in managing your organization:

http://tinyurl.com/jmt69ww

One particular client has been dealing with growing pains that are forcing changes in key positions within his company. Some people are on their way out while others are on the way in. The people remaining have been on pins and needles with the usual anxiety: Am I gonna be next? Who am I working for now? How will my life change?

Changes over which we have no control can really suck. If organizations handle them poorly, productivity can go out the window. Here are some thoughts about delivering bad news internally:

http://tinyurl.com/h9c5fah

And here’s the same subject with a slightly different analysis but a similar conclusion:

http://tinyurl.com/h86dl3h

Science the Sh#t Out of This  

The best line (also Neil deGrasse Tyson’s favorite) in The Martian is when Matt Damon says, “I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.” Most of the clients that we work with can “science” just about anything. The challenge comes when stakes are high, trust is low and the experts and scientists have to talk to people who aren’t experts or scientists. Here are some guidelines for having those conversations:http://tinyurl.com/z2hayw5

And the fact is, there’s a lot of science to communicating with people who aren’t scientists:

http://tinyurl.com/jmd9z6u

If You Can’t Come to Us for Training, We’ll Come to You

People who take our workshops and courses come from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and just about every other federal, state, regional, local and tribal agency. Others include global governments, NGO’s and hundreds of businesses – anyone who works with the public on difficult issues.

The Participation Company delivers a variety of customized workshops in one- to five-day lengths dealing with public involvement, (re) building trust in government, conflict resolution, risk communication, public engagement for tech-types, group facilitation and many other related topics. We can help you get your job done better.

* If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there…
– Yogi

* As government employees we have our fair share of training. Not many rise to the level, as this one did, where you can say that it is one of the best courses you’ve ever taken.
– Geoff, BLM

* I just wanted to let you know that the class I attended yesterday was the most professional, interesting, and worthwhile class…I ever attended. 
– Catherine, Arizona Highways Magazine

* …We appreciate your skill in presenting so much material and for your keen ability to read and pace to the crowd. That was rather remarkable, I thought.
– Maria, APS

* I am convinced that this course will be of tremendous value to our staff.
– Tom, Urban Systems

* …Thanks again for the hard work you invested in making sure we had a valuable learning experience!
– Ann, Booze Allen Hamilton

Some of  The Participation Company’s upcoming International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) classes, open to everyone, include:

The IAP2 Foundations 5-Day Course:

* Arlington, VA: February 1 – 5, 2016
* Fort Collins, CO: February 2 – 3, 2016 (2-Day Techniques)
* Phoenix, AZ: February 29 – March 4, 2016
* Chicago, IL: April 4 – 8, 2016
* Austin, TX: April 18 – 22, 2016
* Great Falls, MT: Dates Pending 2016 (3-Day Planning)
* Fairmont, MT: Dates Pending 2016 (2-Day Techniques)

The IAP2 Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation 2-Day Course:

* Phoenix, AZ: May 4 – 5, 2016
* Chicago, IL: June 15 – 16, 2016
* Austin, TX: (Dates Pending)
* Arlington, VA: (Dates Pending)

Other 2016 locations are likely, and we routinely customize in-house curriculum and workshops for clients’ very specific issues and challenges.

Click on  http://TheParticipationCompany.com for details and registration information.

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner and provider for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). 

Please forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might like it. We’ll never abuse your name and address, we won’t SPAM your friends and subscribing/unsubscribing is painless.

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I Love the Smell of Public Involvement in the Morning

Well, it’s been quite a year. Our Participation Company posse has been fortunate enough to do rewarding work for good people, and we celebrated a move for Wendy, a marriage for Doug and healthy growth for all.

On the big stage, neither the Bible, Koran, Book of Mormon nor the collective novels of L. Ron Hubbard — the holiest books combined — could have predicted the state of the U.S. Presidential campaign so far, and we still have a year to go. Keep a bottle of Pepto Bismol close, and hang onto your antlers.

So, as the sun slowly sets on 2015, I hope you’re able to spend some true quality time with your loved ones — without your family finding out (Rimshot!)

Happy Holidays, Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas.

Godec

Real Public Involvement Works. Duh.  

Success stories about authentic public involvement abound — we  all know that it works. However, stories about decision failures when affected people are not really engaged are still the most common…just pick up a newspaper or click any online news site.

As such, it’s nice when you find a business-driven, potentially controversial siting account of how it can go really right:

http://tinyurl.com/h8tu3kq

Say What?  

We’ve talked before about active listening being the most ignored and easily dismissed communication skill; however, you probably weren’t paying attention. A colleague of ours in OZ wrote about it recently…here’s Stuart’s view from under the Southern Cross:

http://tinyurl.com/jcrqk6n

Listening well is great for building business and public service relationships, not to mention its side benefit of making you even more lovable than you already are…

http://tinyurl.com/gmeufoc

The Tangled Web  

The world is continuing to shift its focus more and more towards online sources of information. As such, it’s helpful to know a few things about the public sector’s trends that will help you deal more effectively with stakeholders.

We know, for example, that you’re most likely to be reading this on a mobile device today as opposed to a laptop or desktop computer than you would have been even six months ago. And the average adult attention span – hey, there goes a squirrel! – is now eight seconds.  Best of luck…

http://tinyurl.com/jyn5drd

When was the last time that the public ever thought of any bureaucracy as human, much less funny? That said, I’m glad to say that my home state and one long-time client manages to accomplish just that:

http://tinyurl.com/hwh9wh9

Do They Really Get It?  

It’s your job to make sure that people understand what you’re trying to communicate to them. It’s not their job to figure you out. This isn’t an easy task…if it was, lawyers would be doing it:

http://tinyurl.com/h4jsmgr

More fun facts to know and tell: did I mention that the average adult attention span is eight seconds? Reports say that attention spans have shrunk by 33 percent in just the last 15 years, and people now check their mobile devices 150 times a day…

http://tinyurl.com/jgoan9x

The Year the Music Died (Something just for Fun)  

OK, so it didn’t actually happen in 2015…it was several years ago that popular music began its trajectory into major suckage. I realize that expressing this fact may elicit deeply offended responses from some fans of Fetty Wap, The Weekend and The Bieb.

That’s OK…I have thick skin. As a former highly trained disc-professional as well as a card-carrying member of the generation that invented rock & roll, I also feel that I am indeed qualified to pass judgment on this kind of music.

Look, I’m not saying that all music sucks. There are lots of exceptions and you can still find great stuff on Pandora, Spotify, and other online sources just like Netflix and Amazon now compensate for lousy network and cable TV. It’s simply getting harder to find good music on terrestrial radio stations or even Sirius/XM. Nevertheless, the attached mashup is a pretty cool collection of the hits that you successfully avoided. You can thank me in 2016:

http://tinyurl.com/jj999x4

Growing Your Career in 2016

People who take our workshops and courses come from federal agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Park Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of Transportation (DOT), Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and just about every other federal, state, regional, local and tribal agency. Others include global governments, NGO’s and hundreds of businesses – anyone who works with the public on difficult issues.

The Participation Company delivers a variety of customized workshops in one- to five-day lengths dealing with public involvement, (re) building trust in government, conflict resolution, risk communication, public engagement for tech-types, group facilitation and many other related topics. We can help you get your job done better.
* If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there… – Yogi

* I just wanted to let you know that the class I attended yesterday was the most professional, interesting, and worthwhile class…I ever attended. – Catherine, Arizona Highways Magazine

* …excellent presentation over the five-day course. We appreciate your skill in presenting so much material and for your keen ability to read and pace to the crowd. That was rather remarkable, I thought. – Maria, APS

* I am convinced that this course will be of tremendous value to our staff. – Tom, Urban Systems

* …after the great job you did with our class last week.  Thanks again for the hard work you invested in making sure we had a valuable learning experience! – Ann, Booze, Allen Hamilton

* As government employees we have our fair share of training. Not many rise to the level, as this one did, where you can say that it is one of the best courses you’ve ever taken. – Geoff, BLM

Some of The Participation Company’s upcoming International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) classes, open to everyone, include:

The IAP2 Foundations 5-Day Course:

* Arlington, VA: February 1 – 5, 2016
* Fort Collins, CO: February 2 – 3, 2016 (2-Day Techniques)
* Phoenix, AZ: February 29 – March 4, 2016
* Chicago, IL: April 4 – 8, 2016
* Austin, TX: April 18 – 22, 2016
* Great Falls, MT: 2016 Dates Pending (3-Day Planning)
* Fairmont, MT: 2016 Dates Pending (2-Day Techniques)

The IAP2 Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation 2-Day Course:

* Phoenix, AZ: May 4 -5, 2016
* Chicago, IL: June 15 – 16, 2016
* Austin, TX: (Dates Pending)
* Arlington, VA: (Dates Pending)

Other 2016 locations are in the works and we routinely customize in-house curriculum and workshops for clients’ very specific issues and challenges.

Click on http://TheParticipationCompany.com for details and registration information.

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner and provider for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). 

Please forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might find it useful. We’ll never abuse your name and address, we won’t SPAM your friends and subscribing/unsubscribing is painless.

Remember: We waste our time surfing the Worldwide Interweb so you don’t have to…

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Giving your Family the Bird this Thanksgiving

Some members of my family, when forced to use the word liberal, tend to spit it out the same way one would expectorate a dung beetle that had just flown into one’s mouth.

It’s a family of strong feelings — not all shared. Between the coming election year and the attacks in Paris, the chats at Thanksgiving dinner promise to be robust. I won’t get a word in edgewise, so here’s my take:

I happen to live in one of those states with a Governor who is demanding that the Feds stop sending all refugees (not just Syrians) here. So here’s the question…does the fear/caution justify the consequence of that policy and that mindset? It’s popular, but is it wise?

Fear, after all, is the best motivator ever. Fear works for terrorists, political candidates and erectile-dysfunction commercials. Fear makes people mad, and these angry, outraged people tend to vote other, evil guys out of office. These same folks then buy more guns & ammo and stop talking to strangers.

Although we all tend to react emotionally to tragic events at first, we can do better. We also can learn to help other people judge risk, fear and anger better. Here are some Thanksgiving dinner conversation kick-starters. Good luck.

Godec

Fear and Loathing in Your Head  

Here’s the conclusion of 50 years of research involving 27,000 people and 127 different studies…pretty strong evidence:

http://tinyurl.com/qcpm983

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that fear and anxiety also make people more isolated and reduces their empathy:

http://tinyurl.com/pp2vstd

First thing’s first: people who are scared or mad aren’t necessarily irrational…far from it. Fear and anger, after all, got us out of the swamp and to the top of the food chain and has kept us alive all of these years. However, if the job requires reasoned conversation, then you’ve got to manage the emotional space first. Try this:

http://tinyurl.com/qazubcu

But is it Safe?  

“We don’t know, 100%, what will happen with groundwater as a result of uranium mining,” said one environmental activist in a recent interview. She was referring to an ongoing push to stop the few remaining historic mining operations near Grand Canyon — new mines are already prohibited. She’s right of course…there’s no 100% guarantee of anything and mining is a risky business. The legacy of uranium mining in the Southwest is horrendous and shameful, but does the current fear justify the proposed action? I’m not sure. Good decisions need to be based on technical, economic, environmental and social options and consequences, not just on gut reactions and politics.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not dismissing feelings and instincts. I worked a bit with Gavin de Becker some time back. He wrote The Gift of Fear and Fear Less, two books that focus on security, safety and the cultivation of instinct and prediction. We can and should nurture and trust our ability to see around corners and act. The following story illustrates this in a pretty shocking way:

http://tinyurl.com/pd2w566

And once you realize that everything’s trying to kill you, it keeps things in perspective:

http://tinyurl.com/q3hwu3a

Outrage du Jour  

After the Paris attacks, one of the local morning TV news channels teased their upcoming stories featuring European outrage over the attacks; outrage over subsequent comments made by Obama about the attacks and public outrage over State’s new immigration policies. It was an outrage trifecta. I couldn’t peel my eyes from the screen…

http://tinyurl.com/nghjew8

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean somebody isn’t really after you. You’ve probably heard that quip before. Quite often, we manage issues involving “black helicopter,” “one world order,” “Agenda 21” conspiracy theorist-kinds of people. It’s challenging, and I’ve always suspected that these folks were mostly loner, isolated anti-social types who wear aluminum foil in their caps. Apparently, I’m wrong:

http://tinyurl.com/ntprn7j

A Wink and a Nod  

It’s funny…we’re mostly in the speaking and writing business but I get more questions about non-verbal communication than almost anything else. Here’s an in-depth tutorial on what to do with your noodle:

http://tinyurl.com/ps7qsad

There are things that you can do to improve your own persona – the way that you present yourself and your own brand. I’m not exactly sure who the “highly successful” people are that this guy’s referring to, but maybe it’s you:

http://tinyurl.com/ppvlpgf

 

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Hard To Talk About

Fall is when I often get to teach fresh-faced young persons at various universities. I generally do this for free, so you might wonder why your kid’s tuition is so high when colleges get dropouts like me to work for coffee mugs and t-shirts. The answer is simple: I enjoy hanging out with energetic, smart, not-yet-cynical people.

However, it can be challenging being this kind of pro bono professor, primarily because my topics of communication, engagement and related human interaction require them to occasionally look up from their smart devices to make actual eye contact — that’s when they break out in a cold sweat. It’s unnerving for them but, then again, it’s unnerving for a lot of people these days. This is a problem.‏

Godec

The End of Conversation  

“I used to have a hard time remembering names until I took that Dave Carnegie course.” (Rimshot!)

That’s a very old joke about the memory, relationship, communication and sales skills taught by the Dale Carnegie system which apparently still thrives after more than 100 years:

http://tinyurl.com/qhk9ygg

People have even argued that face-to-face and interpersonal communication skills are old-school and just not worth the trouble to learn. What do you think?

http://tinyurl.com/ox48v9t

Hard conversations scare most people. A lot of us are “conflict averse” and will do anything we can to avoid them. That usually means just kicking the can down the street and hoping that somebody else has to deal with it. As a result, things that should be dealt with and resolved are not.  Problems languish, bad feelings fester and smaller problems grow in status and volume. This is very common in government these days. Here’s one way to turn the temperature down:

http://tinyurl.com/q6yr5pf

And for even more details about managing tough conversations:

http://tinyurl.com/pbmq4mr

Shooting the Messenger  

Related to the topic above is the challenge of delivering bad news to people. The EPA’s recent handling of the Animas River spill comes to mind. It’s a fact of life, especially for regulators and elected officials, but nobody likes to do it. As a result, these folks often wait too long and then try to spin it, thinking that somehow people won’t get mad if they can come up with a good excuse or backstory. Don’t do that, and read on:

http://tinyurl.com/ookgrp9

In tense, highly emotional confrontations, there are some people who can stay as cool as the other side of the pillow. These are the people who can manage their own reactions and calm troubled waters. Here’s some advice:

http://tinyurl.com/oz2bd5w

Getting Into Their Heads  

A long time ago, somebody taught me that you can’t force information into people’s heads…it has to be pulled in. Today, that little piece of wisdom still validates the basic understanding that people need to want to hear what you have to say before you stand any chance of getting your stuff into their heads. These 17 kind-of-unorthodox presenting tips are worth considering:

http://tinyurl.com/owl5s6l

I have a client with an important public presentation to deliver late this month and she’s very nervous about it – she hates public speaking. A lot of people can relate, right? So, I’m working with her to tell an understandable and interesting story by growing her comfort level and confidence. I’ll use at least some of the following:

http://tinyurl.com/o3fs2na

I’ve always thought that any kind of public speaking requires at least a little bit of performance art. Consider these tips:

http://tinyurl.com/ntqktfr

Wordsmithing  

One of this newsletter’s readers recently sent me a note asking that I include some more basic writing suggestions. I’m nothing if not obedient…

http://tinyurl.com/o5zmdsr

I have partners who actually paid close attention during English class, and now work hard to make sure that we don’t screw up the language like this:

http://tinyurl.com/pf25rxv

TPC Training & Coaching  

The Participation Company (TPC) offers a variety of one- to five-day customized workshops dealing with public engagement, risk communication, public communication for technical experts, facilitation and other related topics. We can help you.

* “…the most professional, interesting, and worthwhile … class I ever attended”

* “As government employees we have our fair share of training. Not many rise to the level, as this one did, where you can say that it is one of the best courses you’ve ever taken”

* “That was definitely one of the very best training experiences I have had” 

Some of TPC’s  open classes include:

* The updated International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) 5-Day Foundations course:

* Fort Collins, CO November 3 – 5, 2015 (3-Day Planning)

* Great Falls, MT December 9 – 11, 2015 (3-Day Planning)

* Chicago, IL: December 14 – 18, 2015

* Arlington, VA: February 1 – 5, 2016

* Fort Collins, CO February 2 – 3, 2016 (2-Day Techniques)

* Fairmont, MT February 25 – 26, 2016 (2-Day Techniques)

* Phoenix, AZ: February 29 – March 4, 2016

* Austin, TX: April 18 – 22, 2016

Click on www.TheParticipationCompany.com for all of the registration information.

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner and provider for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). 

Please forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might find it useful. We never, ever SPAM anybody and subscribing/unsubscribing is painless.
Remember: We waste our time surfing the Worldwide Interweb so you don’t have to…

 

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September’s Engineer Joke

The Renaissance, Dark Ages and Age of Enlightenment – if you pay any attention to the news these days, it feels like we’re in another noteworthy period of human history, one that might be remembered as the “Age of Willful Ignorance.” But the truth is that it really may not be that new.

Isaac Asimov once said, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life; nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” What seems to be different now is how much conventional and social media amplifies blowhards and gasbags.

Finding ways to get truthful knowledge into people’s heads is still the primary goal. These stories should help.‏

Godec

Extroverted Engineers  

Do you know the difference between introverted and extroverted engineers? Extroverted engineers stare at your shoes when they’re talking to you! I always enjoy using that knee-slapper with my techy pals, but I’ll probably have to rethink that joke based on the winner of the 2015 Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking. Mohammed Qahtani, a security engineer in Saudi Arabia, has some terrific tips:

http://tinyurl.com/nv9l6wf

You can’t force knowledge into people’s heads…it has to be pulled in. That requires the right language, existing knowledge and perceptions that are already in their heads. Next time, try metaphors:

http://tinyurl.com/nw9855n

I’ve attended two conferences since the last newsletter and I’ve seen and heard a lot of people speak. Some were good; some, not so much. So on the subject of presenting, here’s a checklist that you might like:

http://tinyurl.com/mxn47vd

Getting the Public in the Door  

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it: You can’t involve people who don’t get involved, so getting them in the door and into the process is critical. Here are 10 tips for that important first step:

http://tinyurl.com/p4kxxrt

In spite of the progress made over the years, public involvement still means a thousand different things to a thousand different people. In some cases, you’ll find it being done really right…

http://tinyurl.com/nco9o49

The business world is increasingly focused on engaging their customers. You can find useful principles that translate well to the public sector, like these:

http://tinyurl.com/q6tsemc

Another Day, Another CEO Apology  

Volkswagen was caught doing something remarkably stupid and destructive to their credibility this week. As of this writing, their stock price is down about 20 percent and still falling. Time will tell just how bad this turns out to be for the company and the people who depend on them for a living. I’ll let you be the judge of the response from their U.S. CEO:

http://tinyurl.com/nfr47q3

On that same note, and you might think that this is ridiculously obvious. However, there’s a lot of chatter these days among academics and leadership gurus about the renewed interest in character. Edward R. Murrow, the late, great journalist once said, “To be persuasive, we must be believable; To be believable, we must be credible; To be credible, we must be truthful.”

http://tinyurl.com/qaq7opj

Training & Coaching, Basics to Advanced  

If you or your folks could use help in working with the public on tough issues, we’re here:

* “…The most professional, interesting, and worthwhile … class I ever attended”

* “As government employees we have our fair share of training. Not many rise to the level, as this one did, where you can say that it is one of the best courses you’ve ever taken”

* “That was definitely one of the very best training experiences I have had” 

Currently scheduled classes include:

The updated International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Foundations course:

* Fort Collins, CO November 3 – 5, 2015 (Planning)

* Great Falls, MT December 9 – 11, 2015 (Planning)

* Chicago, IL: December 14 – 18, 2015

* Arlington, VA: February 1 – 5, 2016

* Fort Collins, CO February 2 – 3, 2016 (Techniques)

* Fairmont, MT February 25 – 26, 2016 (Techniques)

* Phoenix, AZ: February 29 – March 4, 2016

IAP2’s newer Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation course:

* Orlando, FL October 28 – 29, 2015

Just click on http://TheParticipationCompany.com for all of the registration information.

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner and provider for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). 

Please forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might find it useful. We never, ever SPAM anybody and subscribing/unsubscribing is painless.
 
Remember: We waste our time surfing the Worldwide Interweb so you don’t have to…

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Unsociable, Phones and Rule Changes‏

The Dog Days of summer are upon us, so I wanted to get a slightly abbreviated version of this tome from the range* out before the U.S. Labor Day weekend. Dreading or craving the end of summer probably depends on how far north or south you live. Wherever that might be for you, I hope that your summer dreams come true.

Godec

* I readily confess to stealing that line from “Tome on the Range,” a downtown bookstore in Las Vegas, New Mexico

Antisocial Media  

Social media might be the most important (grassroots) organizational tool invented by humankind since we first learned to grunt ideas at each other. When it sparked “Arab Spring,” the whole idea of its power took on an air of nobility and righteousness. Nobody knows where it will go, but the amount of good that technology and the social media movement can do by allowing previously powerless people both self-expression and a way to connect, engage and organize may be limitless. But there’s a dark side to it that we have to admit and learn, somehow, to deal with – public shaming.

You’ll remember these stories when they were viral, but you may not know the backstories and consequences. Jon Ronson explores the phenomenon in a recent book:

http://tinyurl.com/onmoxnt

Phone Home  

The social media that you probably grew up with makes you a dinosaur…

http://tinyurl.com/ovrjdkb

Fact is, your cell phone kinda sucks as a phone:

http://tinyurl.com/ofznsgl

Changing the Public Speaking Rules 

We often talk here about better presentations and speaking to groups more effectively. Audiences are changing and so are the rules:

http://tinyurl.com/qxpulml

“The Biggest Problem in Communication…  

…is the illusion that it has taken place.” That enduring quote from George Bernard Shaw comes to my mind almost daily. Good decisions and good judgment come, in large part, from having made bad decisions and poor judgment. This will save you some time…

http://tinyurl.com/or6zrxb%20

Most of the useful stuff that’s written about communication typically focuses on business managers and CEOs, but these lessons are extremely useful to government folks communicating with the public. It’s the dynamics and psychology of people who have more power communicating with those people who have less. Here’s what Wharton says:

http://tinyurl.com/oh75qnb

As a big fan of sarcasm — shocking, isn’t it? — I appreciate its creativity and humor as well as the edginess and attention that it can bring to communication. However, it can be dangerous. I finally found a good, brief explanation on how and when to use (or not use) sarcasm:

http://tinyurl.com/ngmdyy5

Training & Coaching, Basics to Advanced  

If you and your people need help or just a refresher in engaging the public, we can help. We’ll show you what we’ve learned from our own failures as well as our successes. This will save you a lot of aspirin…

* “As government employees we have our fair share of training. Not many rise to the level, as this one did, where you can say that it is one of the best courses you’ve ever taken.”

* “That was definitely one of the very best training experiences I have had, and without question it was the presenter & participants who made it so!”

* “…class I attended yesterday was the most professional, interesting, and worthwhile … class I ever attended.”

The full slate of 2016 training dates and places is coming soon, but for the time being you can plan on the following:

* The newly updated International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Foundations course:

* Chicago, IL: December 14 – 18, 2015

* Arlington, VA: February 1 – 5, 2016

* Phoenix, AZ: February 29 – March 4, 2016

* The IAP2 Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation course:

* Orlando, FL October 28 – 29, 2015

Just click on http://theparticipationcompany.com for all of the details and to register.

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner and provider for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

Please forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might find it useful. We never, ever SPAM anybody and subscribing/unsubscribing is easy.

Remember: We waste our time surfing the Worldwide Interweb so you don’t have to…

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Sacred Nukes, Headline Writing and Techno-Babble

A survey of 1400 Iranians conducted a few years ago by researchers found that 14 percent of them saw their country’s nuclear program as sacred. Given the current U.S. political fallout over the Iran nuclear deal, that fact might get your attention.

What’s it mean? We’re currently working on a project with sacred sites as a major issue so we’re thinking a lot about the subject. The sense of sacredness and personal values are extremely important concepts and part of almost all of the courses that we teach. Click on the first article below…I think that you’ll find it interesting.

Godec

Battle Tested  

For the first time, researchers (including those at the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Oxford University) are examining the pathology of war the way that biologists study the pathology of disease. The science is starting to disprove things that “everybody knows.”

We usually think that the other side is abnormal, deluded, cruel, or just insane. But research now suggests that terrorists and insurgents are basically just like us. They don’t lack empathy – it just seems to be distributed differently.

Some of these new research conclusions are very similar to strategies that we’ve used for years in our work regarding conflict and emotional people. It’s also clear that acknowledgement and symbolic concessions (apologies) play incredibly important roles at every level of conflict resolution.

You won’t find all the magic answers here but it’s worth reading:

http://tinyurl.com/njk5bd6

Make Your Emails Less Rude  

Most of your work-related communication probably happens via email. You exchange information; ask or instruct people to do things, try to convince or work to build relationships with them.

Don’t take email for granted and don’t ignore the nuances and tone of your messages:

http://tinyurl.com/o6pz8zb

You Probably Won’t Read any Further than This…  

Five times as many people read headlines as read the accompanying copy. That was largely true even back before the Web. Headlines grab so that you can drag people in and keep them:

http://tinyurl.com/omqwxn2

It’s reported that Albert Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Translating tough science and policy into language that non-experts can grasp is a major part of the job. Here’s a very good article about making it simple enough:

http://tinyurl.com/odr663z

Successful screenwriters know story and audience. Following are some great lessons from Tinseltown….

http://tinyurl.com/qaqojow

Trust Me When I’m Talking to You  

Every time you open your mouth in front of an audience, you either grow or diminish in their eyes.  So let’s grow…

http://tinyurl.com/pnaqcmb

Navigating the wide world of techno-babble:

http://tinyurl.com/p5s8fhs

Don’t forget to breathe…

http://tinyurl.com/nm49s26

You’ll probably never go pro, but there are some lessons here:

http://tinyurl.com/nkpwq6t

Great speakers become catalysts. They inspire and create change in people’s thinking, motivations and actions. Pretty good goal, huh?

http://tinyurl.com/oyjxk5s

You Always Remember your First Time…  

If you’re getting this particular newsletter for the first time, I hope it was good for you.

In the past, you’ve received occasional emails from the League of Extraordinary Trainers. That collection of IAP2 trainers has technically disbanded but four of us – John Godec, Wendy Lowe, Marty Rozelle and Doug Sarno (plus Debra Duerr) — are also partners in The Participation Company and still providing world-class training so you’ll be getting occasional emails from us.

We hope you’ll stick with us. This newsletter’s been publishing for several years to provide real content that you can use. I think you’ll find something you’ll like in every issue. But, if you choose to do so, opting out is easy. Just know that we’ll miss you. Badly.

Great Training & Coaching  

If you or your crew could use a little coaching or a refresher in working with the public, we can help. Controversy and tough issues are our specialty.

* “As government employees we have our fair share of training. Not many rise to the level, as this one did, where you can say that it is one of the best courses you’ve ever taken.”

* “That was definitely one of the very best training experiences I have had, and without question it was the presenter & participants who made it so!”

* “…class I attended yesterday was the most professional, interesting, and worthwhile … class I ever attended.”

The full slate of 2016 training dates and places is coming soon, but for the time being you can plan on the following:

The newly updated International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Foundations course:

* Chicago, IL: September 21 – 25, 2015

* Arlington, VA: February 1 – 5, 2016

The IAP2 Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation course:

* Orlando, FL October 28 – 29, 2015

Just click on http://theparticipationcompany.com for all of the details and to register.

The Participation Company LLC is a strategic partner and provider for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA).

Please forward this newsletter to anyone that you think might find it useful. We never, ever SPAM anybody and subscribing/unsubscribing is easy.

Remember: We waste our time surfing the Worldwide Interweb so you don’t have to…

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Mad as Hell, Millennials & Workin’ It

Jerry Seinfeld has been talking lately about political correctness run amuck and he hasn’t been too kind to Millennials. He, Chris Rock, Larry the Cable Guy and a few others have stopped doing college gigs ’cause kids are now too PC.

In my line of work, I see growing evidence that people of all ages and from all walks of life are now working really hard to be offended. The source is usually something that they don’t really care about, but getting bent out of shape is all the rage these days so why not, eh?

I’m not talking about being perturbed or mildly offended here. I’m talking about getting worked up into the kind of lather that only comes from good old fashioned, self-imposed and self-righteous outrage. This usually fake tizzy is something that we’ll try to discuss in the future.

Godec

You’re Mad as Hell & You’re Not Going to Take It Anymore  

In managing people’s outrage, the objective is to encourage their willingness to talk about to their own self-interests. That’s where negotiation occurs, compromise is found and good things can happen. This is one of the best, brief essays on emotion and negotiation that I think you’ll find:

http://tinyurl.com/obuhm5h

If I wanted to write self-help blogs, then this story would be a dream come true. I don’t, but I think you’ll find it useful anyway. You know that anger is a manifestation of frustration. As such, it stands to reason that learning to stop being so frustrated is very useful in this frustrating business…

http://tinyurl.com/q6oyypb

By all accounts (and a recent bestseller), Steve Jobs was a brilliant dick. The following piece is about negotiating with people like him using your Emotional Intelligence:

http://tinyurl.com/ppyuzya

A Millennial Moment  

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently released their research on generational definitions, attributes and tendencies with a focus on Millennials. It’s detailed and enlightening:

http://tinyurl.com/lkrf3co

We’ve talked about this topic before…the art of human, civil conversation is slowly eroding. It’s worth considering from this perspective:

http://tinyurl.com/p4skuh2

Employee Engagement and Communication  

More clients are becoming interested in applying the public involvement skills that they’ve learned over the years to engage their own employees. Captain Obvious says this is a terrific place to start:

http://tinyurl.com/najkptx

According to the 2012 Gallup Employee Engagement Index, about one third of all employees globally are actively engaged; nearly 20 percent are actively disengaged and the rest -just about half- are on the fence…

http://tinyurl.com/pnkudu9

It’s pretty common for employers to want their people to feel like they’re engaged but still not really want to give up any of their power or control to them. Welcome to the dilemma:

http://tinyurl.com/oj8zou3

It’s about creating an emotional connection between your people, the services they provide and the people they provide it to…

http://tinyurl.com/nnwmvl6

Last one, I promise…here’s how Southwest Airlines does it. Ding! You are now free to move about the newsletter:

http://tinyurl.com/nozwdfy

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Genetics, Email Jerks & Government Social Media‏

Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were the Washington Post reporters that broke the Watergate scandal that resulted in the resignation of a president. Bernstein spoke in Minnesota a few weeks back and pointed out that ideology and partisanship is keeping politicians, journalists and the public from looking for “the best obtainable version of the truth.” That’s a good, glib way of explaining most of the work that we do – getting to the best obtainable version of the truth.

Godec

That Explains Everything  

Here’s a study that has found a genetic variant in about half of all white people that explains how and why they react the way they do…

http://tinyurl.com/o99k3tg

Listen to This  

Getting through to people who are continually bombarded by other people trying to get through to them is a lofty challenge for all of us. This will help:

http://tinyurl.com/mthlgv6

And now that we’re on the subject, ask yourself how many “duologues” you’ve had this week…

http://tinyurl.com/ksj5t8t

Hi, I’m From the Government & I’m here to Help You through Social Media  

It’s everywhere and everybody’s using it so agencies are increasingly getting in on the act. This brief Washington Post story just says if you do it, do it wisely…

http://tinyurl.com/khmzgwh

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time  

That sentence is the kicker to a great story that each of us can tell. Some people have to reach back to our college days (and some of us only to last week) but everybody likely has a bad decision story to share…

Because most of our work is ultimately about making better decisions, here’s where the bad ones are born:

http://tinyurl.com/qbhcfh4

What was Your Name Again?  

In the business of human relations and interpersonal communication, it would help if I could remember who you are…

http://tinyurl.com/m39yqyc

Confirmation Bias  

We all tend to ignore or dismiss any evidence contrary to the things that we’ve decided to believe. Helping people understand and consider other points of view starts with some basics…like this:

http://tinyurl.com/lotlm6j

Stop Sending Jerk Emails  

I get regular, necessary business emails from someone (who shall remain nameless) who sounds like a real jerk, but who I also suspect might actually be a swell human being. When I write back, I try to use the proper name and employ professional but warm greetings, salutations and complete sentences…you get the idea.

In response, I get terse, clipped messages, chopped language or nothing. I don’t take it personally, but if this is how s/he emails everybody, then I suspect s/he doesn’t get many lunch or happy hour invitations…

http://tinyurl.com/o6pz8zb

 

 

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Oh, He’s Just Bat-Sh&t Crazy, Bless His Heart…

That statement (in the subject line) was the response that I got from a co-worker when I asked her to explain one of our goofier colleagues that I’d just met. This was my introduction to gracious Southern modifiers, shortly after moving to Little Rock, Arkansas for a job years ago. You can say pretty much anything about anybody if you followed it with, bless his or her heart which softens the insult. I’ve always enjoyed that because it works for the charm of the genteel South. So let’s have “fun with words.”

Godec

Huh?  

We are living in a time of constant outrage contrasted by political correctness run amuck with euphemisms, modifiers and descriptors. Language reflects the political mood of the country. At one extreme, people who watch and listen to info-tainers yelling on radio and TV learn that it’s OK to act like an ass in public. At the other extreme, political correctness has some people speaking in tongues and we have no idea what they really mean. Euphemisms are really useful until they’re not…

http://tinyurl.com/oh7mnyo

Them Are Fightin’ Words…  

Elaine Boosler once said, “When women are depressed, they either eat or go shopping; men invade another country.” Gender differences also speak to how words either work or don’t depending on the audience. Guys typically use lots of sports and military metaphors that may not work well with women or specific cultures.

The following advice comes from Down Under and, although it’s a little hypersensitive for my taste, it’s worth considering:

http://tinyurl.com/ozeau95

But, if you just can’t shake military lingo, at least get it right:

http://tinyurl.com/k9krqew

No, totally!  Here’s what that means and where it comes from:

http://tinyurl.com/o7q9ar7

And apparently abstract language conveys power. Who da thunk…

http://tinyurl.com/l4bwccm

Making Sister Mary Mercy Proud  

Here’s a list of 40 words that we use wrong. It makes me wish that I’d paid attention in class instead of worrying about whether we’d get tater tots with the Sloppy Joes for lunch…

http://tinyurl.com/lab6wou

Sister also was a real stickler for pronunciation:

http://tinyurl.com/qjx3eak

A Simple Answer Formula for Tough Questions  

Most of the communication work that you do with the public involves their mistrust of you and concerns about your intentions. For their tough questions, here’s a really nice, simple formula for constructing good answers:

http://tinyurl.com/oa86bro

Deeper Thoughts  

What it might take to defeat ISIS…

http://tinyurl.com/pufzh5x

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