Community Engagement Strategies, FaceSpace, InstaTwitter & Other Useful Apps‏

Back before the turn of the century (1990, I think) a TV show called Short Attention Span Theater was popular – Jon Stewart was a host. I was a fan and think of it often as a metaphor for the many members of the public and stakeholders we deal with.

Below you’ll find stories about how people think and about how their thinking is changing. Research points to shortening attention spans, and a new study says technology might be affecting people’s ability to think abstractly and see the bigger picture. That’s a challenge in making consensus decisions. First we’ll start with an example of a Federal agency that’s embracing community engagement strategies in a great way. Read on…


For an Example of Effective Community Involvement Programs Look to BLM  

We’re lucky enough to work with this agency, so seeing the effects warms the cockles of our collective hearts…

Removing the Technology Cogs from Cognitive  

Cognition is about learning, understanding and perception. Perception starts with communication, and technology is the most prevalent way most of us communicate in business and government. So start with sending fewer rude emails…

And while on the subject of better emails, here are five tips you can use right now:

You might think of this as a basic conflict resolution technique: If you need people to get together to consider the big picture, think creatively and resolve a problem, chances are it’s not going to be done solely through electronics. Eventually, you’ll need some face time because the research suggests that technology alone isn’t very good at helping people think in abstract ways:

If Using a 2×4 in Your Presentation Isn’t Practical  

I recall an old Arkansas analogy about needing a 2×4 to get the mule’s attention. Before you forward my name and number to PETA, consider that getting people to notice you (and the point you’re trying to make) is the first step in community involvement. Getting them to remember you and your message is second:

It’s worth examining how and why some messengers resonate so strongly with their core audiences regardless of who they are and regardless of the message. Politics – clearly – aside, Donald Trump has a simple, effective formula. As he told Marco Rubio at the February 25th debate, “I don’t repeat myself. I don’t repeat myself…I don’t repeat myself.”

One of my smart-aleck friends used to say, “Sincerity is important. Once you’ve learned to fake that you’ve got it made.” Great communication, like almost everything, is a combination of science and art…data and authenticity:

There may be limits to what technology brings to interpersonal communication, but there are useful apps that can actually help make you a better speaker…

The Truth is Still Worth Telling  

I suspect that you believe in truth although you probably wonder if you might be in a fading minority of people that still do. Clearly, getting your point across is a learned skill and here are some lessons:

The formal, bureaucratic culture and legalese of government isn’t doing you any favors in trying to effectively communicate with real people. So, here are some ways to improve that…

Did you ever wonder where all of our goofy professional jargon came from? I found out and I’ll bet this is right in your wheelhouse:

Conflict Resolution Times 5  

Conflict is natural and it’s ok. It’s how things and society change and improve. Conflict is ubiquitous; we all deal with it and we all deal with it in one of five simple ways. And by the way, you’ll find more pieces like this on the blog at

Conflict Resolution Techniques & Community Involvement Programs 

The Participation Company (TPC) has training and workshops open to everyone. If you can’t travel, we’ll come to  you. We work with the EPA, NPS, BLM, DOT, USFS, ACOE, BOR and just about every other acronym that you can think of. We work with big and small companies, domestic state agencies, municipalities, NGO’s, tribes and organizations domestically and overseas.

We have existing and build customized workshops on (re)building trust, community involvement, facilitation, collaboration, risk and conventional communication, conflict resolution and prevention, effective meeting design, translating complex science and policy and other related topics.

We’ll customize and deliver the workshop that you need for your group, and help you find the solutions to your problems.

* …a great trainer. He managed to be both highly knowledgeable and engaging of participants. The material he presented was top-notch.
– Student, Omaha

* 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

* Thank you for a great opportunity to learn – it is rare nowadays to walk away from a learning experience and feel enrich not only as a professional but also as a human being. Thank you for enabling a truly a powerful experience!
– Elna de Beer, Golder Associates Africa

* 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, Booz Allen Hamilton

* One of the best training sessions I’ve had in 29 years. John knows the Superfund program extremely well and understands firsthand the issues we face.
– Regional Project Manager, EPA Region 2

* The Samoan Circle (conversation circle) was a SMASHING SUCCESS tonight!  Thank you! 
– Kerri, Champaign IL

* That was the best training I have been to for EPA so far. I learned so much!!
– Jackie, EPA

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

The IAP2 Foundations 5-Day Course:

* Omaha, NE: August 11 – 12, 2016
(2-Day Techniques)

* Fort Collins, CO:  August 30 – Sept 1, 2016
(3-Day Planning)

* Anchorage, AK: October 31 – November 4, 2016

* Fort Collins, CO: November 3 – 4, 2016
(2-Day Techniques)

* Salt Lake City, UT: December 5 – 9, 2016

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

* Austin, TX: July 20 – 21, 2016

Click on for the details.

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

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