Power, Technobabble & Covfefe

Analogy is a really good way of explaining complex things, and I recently found a good one for explaining our not-really-so-complex summers in the Arizona desert…

Phoenix Rising is building a professional soccer presence (and, hopefully, an MLS franchise) and has imported several world-class players from England’s Premier League. One of them, Peter Ramage, recently suggested to his Brit parents how they might best acclimate to the desert here: “Stick the kettle on, boil it, pour that over your face and then you’ll start to get acclimated.” Sound advice…

I hope that you’re enjoying your summer and having oodles of vacation fun. I know that’s wishful thinking for our wildland firefighter readers who won’t be seeing this until the rains come.

Stay safe, folks, and Stay Curious…


Knowledge is Power  

I’ve been binge-watching the newest season of House of Cards on Netflix this week. It’s a show that currently seems to be writing itself. It got me thinking about someone who once wisely pointed out it’s not (Lord Acton’s quote) that absolute power corrupts – it’s probably more accurate to say that power attracts the corruptible.

Public engagement works by sharing power and leveling the playing field, but that requires people with power and control to give some of it up. This is not easily accomplished and it requires facilitators to fully understand their motivation:


Certainly not all people who are powerful are also narcissists. However, experience has shown that some of them do tend to be. Identifying and understanding these folks is helpful to the work that we do:


It’s not only powerful people who can act like jerks. Regardless of where the jerks line up in the pecking order, dealing with these people is part of the job. This story focuses on how they affect the workplace; however, the principles can apply almost anywhere:


Battling Technobabble  

The curse of knowledge is a topic that we cover in many of the classes that we teach. It means that it’s extremely hard for some people to imagine what it’s like for others not to know what they know and, therefore, communicate with them at their level of understanding.

It’s a profound challenge for the hydrologists, engineers and other advanced-degree experts that we work with. When you spend most of your days writing for the scrutiny of other experts and solicitors in and out of your agency, it’s tough to dial back the academic and bureaucratic legalese and just talk to civilians like people. However, it’s imperative to do so…


On that subject, it’s frustrating to know that people are most often going to remember only a fraction of what you’ve said. They’ll remember more if you stick to two or three points; provide simple, concrete and convincing evidence for those points and then put it into the context of something they already know:


We’ve shared posts, articles and training discussions about the importance of telling stories instead of just spouting data, facts and statutes in presentations. Here’s a very nice six-step process for how to actually do that:


Risk Communication vs. Risk Assessment  

The whole “covfefe” around climate change has raised the question about what, if anything, is actually at risk. This past week a study of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that Earth is entering its sixth mass-extinction, meaning that three-quarters of all species could disappear in the coming centuries. How do we even talk about this right now?


Show Me  

And in spite of what we’ve just said, the actual content of what you’re saying is a remarkably small part of the overall message that you send in any public setting. Ignoring how you look and act in person and in public situations is a big mistake. Here are 12 solid suggestions:


When teaching classes, I sometimes refer to meeting management tips as “cheap facilitator tricks.” These tips are actually neither cheap nor tricks…I just think it’s a memorable and mildly humorous way to present them. Here’s a set of solid facilitation and conversational tactics for artfully handling those people who don’t use periods, commas or stop to take a breath:


I have an…shall we say…exuberant friend who finds it necessary to constantly urge the people that she meets to smile. I think it’s because she’s always grinning like a jack-o’-lantern and apparently thinks everyone else should do the same. It never dawned on me that she might in fact be drunk or crazy:


Conflict Resolution Strategies & Conflict Resolution Techniques  

The Participation Company (TPC) partners facilitate, consult, coach and train public- and private-sector people with their community conflicts and public engagement programs. Our job is to help you do yours.

Open registration International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) classes remaining in 2017 include:

The IAP2 Foundations 5-Day Course:

* Orlando, FL: October 16 – 20

* Walnut Creek, CA: November 6 – 10

IAP2 Strategies for Dealing with Opposition and Outrage in Public Participation 2-Day Course (The newly freshened, hands-on workshop — previously known as “Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation” – has an updated manual and is now gluten free):

* Chicago, IL: August 17 – 18

* Denver, CO: November 16 – 17

Facilitation for Public Participation Practitioners:

* Denver, CO: October 25 – 27

Click on http://TheParticipationCompany.com to
to join us and watch for more IAP2-branded and other original courses in 2017. We continually work with a variety of clients to customize in-house training for their specific challenges.

You’ll also find a lot more original ponderings from Debra Duerr, Wendy Lowe, Doug Sarno and me, and an occasional guest at http://TheParticipationCompany.com/blog/.

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

Please forward this to anyone who you think might find a story useful. We’ll never abuse your privacy and trust, we’ll never SPAM you or your friends, and subscribing/unsubscribing is simple.

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


Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in General