Coffee, Clear Communication, Calls & Cranky Characters

We’ve all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true. But with patience and careful mining you can find occasional gems or at least some useful information. Stay cool.
Irritated, Frustrated, Hostile or Outraged
One of these emotional levels probably describes at least some of the people who showed up at your last public meeting. People don’t like change, especially change that is imposed on them. People resist change even when logic dictates that the change will improve their condition – preferring the devil they know vs. the devil they don’t know. Decision gridlock and opposition exists at every turn and citizen anger is growing. People are scared and mad. You may not be able to avoid it but you can learn to work with it.
Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation is a fresh, new, two-day training workshop based on the research of Dr. Peter Sandman and global experience of IAP2 that deals with this most challenging side of public involvement and we’ll bring it to you and your group. We still have available dates for booking classes for your organization starting in August and we’ll have an open class (for anybody) in Chicago on October 27th and 28th.
The IAP2 Public Participation Certificate course will be offered the week of July 12th in Irvine, CA, August 2nd in Kansas City and the week of September 13th in Chicago
Contact me for the details about any of these.
The web may make us more social and not just online
Once again at the Environmental Conflict Resolution 2010 Conference last month there was a lot of conversation and concern about how the internet may be affecting our social skills and ability to communicate with each other face to face. Now new research suggests that internet users are actually more likely to meet their neighbors and engage in community issues.
Coffee is bad, coffee is good, and coffee makes you smarter and quicker.
Research on the health effects of coffee has run from one end of the spectrum to the other over the past several years so if you’re a coffee junkie you’ll probably find the latest research interesting.
Kids these days
A gym buddy of mine (lawyer) frequently laments his problems with new, entry-level hires and their ‘lack of work ethic’ , demands for time off, big fat salaries, signing bonuses and the fact that Generation Y is slowly driving him nuts. We’ve talked about this in the past, here’s another take on the subject.
People are way too scary
Many of us in the public involvement, civic engagement business might be amused by elected officials who are terrified of going out in public if the issue wasn’t so serious. Politicians are scared to hold ‘town halls’ or other open forums for fear of results like last summer’s health care town hall debacles. Recently one prominent local community leader asked my advice about formats for a series of open meetings that he’d planned to hold, but eventually opted for safer, invitation-only, tightly controlled events tailored for his supporters. For years candidates have been electioneering and PRing their constituents and their constituents are now pissed. Authentic and transparent public involvement will eventually rule the day but getting politicians there will continue to be painful.
It’s your responsibility not theirs
George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”. We all assume that what we say, write or try to convey will be interpreted exactly as we’d intended and when it’s not we assume that the problem is obviously with the receiver not us. When communication is critical it’s wise to take responsibility for making sure it’s occurred. Here’s a slightly different slant on the subject:
Help Wanted: Moral Leadership
The worst environmental disaster in U.S. history continues to unfold in the Gulf we can safely use the word disaster now without being accused of hyperbole. I’d planned to offer thoughts on BP’s communication strategy and abysmal response to this crisis, but in many important ways this is beyond rhetoric now. Wall Street Journal recently printed a condensed account of events leading up to the blowout on well number 60-817-44169.
Business is almost always a gamble. Corporations do it all the time. Thankfully, not usually at the scale of British Petroleum’s recent roll of the dice that cost 11 people. Decision making and gambling with lives, livelihoods and the ecosystem of the Gulf coast is eerily similar to the gamble taken by NASA and Morton Thiokol in January 1996. That business decision resulted in the loss of seven souls aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Fifteen thousand people have died as a result of a Union Carbide methyl isocyanate gas release in Bhopal India in 1985 – the deadliest industrial accident on record. After 25 years, seven senior Union Carbide Indian officials were convicted this week (two years in prison and a $2175.00 fine) and all are currently out on bail. Point is, when businesses make decisions based solely on quarterly earnings, and the only real consequence for the people making the decisions is a reduced quarterly bonus this will most certainly happen again. Business decisions have to evolve and we have to make sure that they do.
Call me
Given the weak economy of the past couple of years we’re spending a lot more time conducting business by conference call which can certainly be efficient, or very frustrating or terminally boring. Here are some tips that might help:
Think you can spot a liar? Probably not, if you’re working for him.
I got a lot of interest and response last month about the stories that we sent on the subject of truthiness and non-verbal communication. On that note here’s an interesting piece of research recently featured n Harvard Business Review.
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