Chit Chat & Train Wrecks

These e-newsletters cover a lot of territory from simple, straight-to-the-point tips to the more complex social psychology related to human conflict resolution. We try to include something for just about everyone because we work with people at all levels of experience and expectations.

The best ideas for the stories and articles that we include in these mailers come from you. So, if you have questions or ideas about something you’d like to see us explored here, lemme know.

Stay Curious,


Chit, Chat & Chewing the Fat  

An unsurprisingly large number of the experts, professionals and scientists that I know candidly tell me that they find simple social settings with people to be the roughest of all to deal with. Many of them really hate small talk and boy, can I relate. I ran across the following that does a swell job of explaining why it feels so uncomfortable for many of us:

And for my fellow schmooze-averse friends and colleagues, here are some basic ideas about how to handle those informal situations…

There is a point to all of this: the goal is to help you create encounters that lead from possibly less-than-comfortable mundane talks to actual meaningful, enjoyable and rewarding conversations:


As most of the public communication that you produce is probably written, I expect that you find yourself dancing back and forth between writing for colleagues and bosses and writing for real human beings. The real humans don’t normally read or speak the language that you use internally. This is a challenge:

This is another one of those stories focused on business that, in my opinion, is equally at home in government. How bad is your writing and what’s it costing you in credibility?

I’m a big fan of this guy (Eric Barker) and this is one of the better articles I’ve seen on better writing. As such, I suggest you better read it:

Each of us is writing for all kinds of new media that didn’t exist a short time ago; people read differently than they used to. Here’s how to write for it:

And while we’re on the subject of new media, you might consider the following from the TPC Blog:

When Your Gatherings are a Train Wreck  

There may be times when you’re faced with an unfixable mess. In spite of your advance work, issue and stakeholder assessment, planning, outrage prevention and best overall efforts, you suddenly realize that you’ve been set up for failure and you’re dealing with one or more true psychopaths. Some sound advice:

While we’re on the subject of the lowest of humanity, it would be helpful for you to be able to recognize people who fall into that category. Here are some things to look for…

We live in an angry world and work with frustrated people. Helping you navigate these waters is our business. However, if you only have time for a 60-second piece of advice, then read this:

So to Speak  

Almost all of us started babbling as toddlers, so it’s normal for most people to think that getting their point across is second nature. We all have things to learn:

The content coming from your mouth isn’t all you need to worry about…in fact, it may actually be the least important. Your presence is a big deal:

I realize that you’re thinking about what you have to say; however, here’s what not to say:

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 include:

The IAP2 Foundations 5-Day Course:

* Austin, TX: March 27 – 31
* Oakland, CA: April 24 – 28
* Denver, CO: June 5 – 9
* Chicago, IL: June 26 – 30
* Orlando, FL: (Moved to Fall 2017)

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

* Austin, TX: April 27 – 28
* Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ: July 27 – 28
* Chicago, IL: August 17 – 18
* Denver, CO (TBD)
* Arlington, VA (TBD)

Facilitation for Public Participation Practitioners:

* Denver, CO: October 25 – 27

Click on 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

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

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