They Don’t Trust You

Here are some thoughts on public involvement that I thought you’d find interesting, as well as some new takes on trust in government and business – or the constantly eroding lack thereof.

And, in this election year, words are scrutinized more than ever so we’ll explore a few. And to wrap up the issue, how could you possibly resist a 4,000 year-old flatulence joke?

Take comfort…spring training’s right around the corner…and Happy President’s Day!


Who’s Involved?  

It’s tough to find real public engagement done by federal government or even states. The consequence of that fact – a lack of trust – you’ll find addressed in the series of stories below. There is hope, however…it looks like the cities are stepping up:

Our colleague, Larry Schooler, had an interesting take on the subject in a recent Huffington Post…

Have you ever facilitated a group of people who just want to sit on their hands, won’t speak up and won’t give you anything to work with? You might try this:

Can Yelp Rebuild Trust in Government? 

You might be using Yelp and a couple of other rating sites more routinely these days to help make all kinds of decisions and figure out who’s really good and trustworthy. That system isn’t infallible, but a recent Governing Magazine story proposes an intriguing idea. What do you think?

There’s a Pew Research report that’s found only 19 percent of people trust government most or all of the time, about the lowest level in half a century. Fifty-five percent of people say ordinary citizens would do a better job of solving big problems than do elected officials. Fifty-nine percent say government is in need of “very major reform.” Fifty-seven percent of people say they’re “frustrated” and 22 percent say they’re “angry.” Both sides – R’s and D’s – think they’re the losers. Folks, we have a problem:

Trust means having confidence in someone else’s actions. High-trust businesses are reported to be 2.5 times more likely to experience revenue growth than low-trust organizations:

Any solution has to start with the things that you can control or influence. If you’re in any kind of management position here’s what you can do:

The Word That Almost Killed the Climate Change Deal  

Words matter. A lot. It’s easy to dismiss the language that you’re using. Words that mean one thing to you and your own professional network might mean something completely different to the public or to your other stakeholders. Here’s a critical example:

Generation X (those born early 60’s to early 80’s) communicates differently than Generation Y (those born early 80’s to early 2000’s). Words and phrases that GenX has been using to convey one idea mean something very different to GenY:

New words and slang enter the language all the time. Some stick and some don’t…it’s a groovy phenomenon. It’s also interesting to see where they come from and how they spread. I’m unbothered by critics who say that this is a waste of time:

In an attempt to explain hard-to-explain things, no tool works better than the creative use of analogy – comparing the usually incomparable — comparing something unfamiliar to something quite familiar. Using analogy well is a creative exercise that talented wordsmiths have used since the earliest philosophers:

Weekend Reading  

As the highly sophisticated person that I am, I was pleased to learn that the oldest joke in recorded history is a Sumerian fart proverb from 1900 B.C. This news vindicates dads everywhere. I thought you’d enjoy the following — the 100 jokes that shaped comedy:

We’ll Also Train You at Your Place  

We’ll Also Train You at Your Place

The Participation Company (TPC) schedules training classes at a variety of locations that are open to everyone. If you think people in your neck of the woods would be interested, let us know. We also bring our classes and workshops directly to organizations to work with their staff and managers on a more confidential and customized basis. People who take our workshops and courses are from public sector organizations like 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 as well as global governments, NGO’s and hundreds of businesses – anyone who works with the public on difficult issues.

TPC 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 other related topics.  We’ll help you build public trust and 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:

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

(Seats still available!)

* 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)

* Pacific Northwest (Dates Pending) 2016

Other 2016 locations are in the works, and we craft in-house training and workshops for clients’ unique issues and challenges.

Click on for details and registration information.

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

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