Truth, Fairness and Body Language for Boys‏

We’re in the season of dust storms in Arizona. We always have ’em around the summer thunderstorm/monsoon season but when TV weatherpersons started suggesting the use of “haboob” instead of “dust storm” to describe ’em — well — that’s when the virga hits the alluvial fan.
Some folks in Arizona hate importing Middle Eastern words more than they hate importing Middle Eastern oil. A lot of folks in our business like words though, so I thought that you’d like this story:



William Falk has a timely commentary in the July 27 issue of The Week:

When Jerry Sandusky was charged with sexual abuse last November, I received several anguished emails from Penn State loyalists. Our cover that week depicted one of the abuse victims with his head hung in sorrow, as he stood, alone and ignored, in the shadow of Joe Paterno’s famous statue. “I know Joe, and he will be vindicated,” the most impassioned of the loyalists wrote. Paterno, he said, was a great man, and would never have ignored-let alone covered up-evidence that Sandusky was a pedophile.
Now we know Joe Pa did just that (see Controversy of the week), and his statue will probably soon be hauled away (As was done on July 22). But let’s not smugly conclude that only the Penn State community could be so blind that hubris and self-delusion are confined to Paterno’s Happy Valley. The same, boundless capacity for denial lies within every one of us.

Social psychologists have various terms for the tricks the mind plays on itself: cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, motivated reasoning. Human beings are not, at our cores, rational creatures. We’re tribal and emotional, and fiercely defend our deeply held beliefs; we look for evidence and arguments that confirm what we already think, while ignoring or rejecting that which does not.

It takes enormous effort-and self-awareness-to view the world without narrow blinders. “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle,” George Orwell once said. So let’s not be too hard on the people who were so certain Joe Paterno was a saint. Instead, let’s ask ourselves: What’s in front of my own nose that I am refusing to see? What delusions am I protecting, and at what cost?

It’s All About Me, Me, Me

Country music’s Toby Keith had a hit a few years ago called “I Wanna Talk About Me.” It was a tongue-in-cheek tune but dead-on in defining human nature. We all have a deeply engrained need to be heard. That goes a long way in explaining social media, this newsletter, and working with people in general. The following is from the Wall Street Journal:

The Ultimate Game of Fairness

Of all the factors that contribute to public anger, fairness (or the perceived lack of it) is probably the hugest. Being treated unfairly incites all of us. There are a couple of quick stories on PsyBlog about this that are worth reading. A thing called “The Ultimate Game” seems to tell us that most people act fairly, or at least want others to see them acting in a fair way:

And of course, fairness lives in the mind of the beholder:

The New Employee Communication Rules of Engagement

The former communications director of McDonalds recently spoke at the 2012 International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) World Conference in Chicago. He did a really nice job of outlining the principles for our brave new world: 

Body Language for Boys

I’ve worked on a variety of issues recently requiring clients to speak and engage directly with people who don’t like them very much. So I’ve spent a lot of time helping these (mostly) guys understand how to connect with and build relationships with the folks that they’re talking to and working with. I ran across the following and think it is spot on:

Coaching Public Engagement and the Art & Social Science of
Dealing with Angry People

Chicago will be the site of the five-day IAP2 Public Participation Certificate course at the end of October. This is the foundational class for people in public involvement. The class will be at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) in the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower in the heart of the Loop. I hope to see you there! 

Understanding and working with public anger, protest and conflict is critical to any public engagement project. You’ll learn about managing this emotion during the two-day Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation (EOP2) class — based on the work of Dr. Peter Sandman, the world’s foremost expert on risk communication. This workshop is hands-on, practical and has never been more relevant.

IAP2 Certificate class:

  • October 29 – November 2 in Chicago

EOP2 class:

  • November 14 & 15 in Toronto
  • January 31 & February 1 2013 in Arizona
  • March 14 & 15 (2013) in Calgary

We routinely customize the EOP2 class for your agency challenges and specific needs.  Please contact me for more info.

For currently scheduled U.S. class registrations click on:

For currently scheduled Canada class registrations click on:

I’d be grateful it if you’d forward this info to anyone that you think might benefit from one of these workshops or might like to start receiving this newsletter. (Never any SPAM and subscribing/unsubscribing is easy.)

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