January Newsletter: Consensus, Humor and Parrot Language

Dear Valued Associate,

Well…2018 is off to a rousing start. I considered beginning this newsletter with a thought about the #METOO movement, or the release and repercussions of Fire and Fury, or maybe a climate change comparison of Sydney’s recent 47.3°C (117°F, the hottest in 79 years) to the northeastern U.S. and Canadian deep freeze “bomb cyclone”. But our current state of affairs might be best exemplified by the recent Tennessee legislature’s policy allowing citizens to carry guns into their chamber, while banning people from “hand-carried signs and signs on hand-sticks” because they “represent a serious safety hazard”. (Insert your own thoughts here.)

Stay curious,


You’re Invited

We’ve talked a lot in past newsletters about the nuances of facilitating groups toward conclusions, but we haven’t yet said much about the first order of business – getting people to actually show up. If they’re already mad at you, it’s pretty easy. But, otherwise, just because your little gathering is important and interesting to you doesn’t mean that people are willing to give up an evening watching the Kardashians. The latest article by Wendy Greene Lowe explains the power of a well-crafted invitation in this meeting facilitation training.


Consensus or Kumbaya 

Consensus is, arguably, the true essence of effective democratic public policy. Crafting decisions that most people can live with isn’t easy or quick, but usually beats simple majority voting when 51% wins and 49% of people become losers. Of course, there are people who see consensus as the naïve and unrealistic musings of Kumbaya-singing unicorn ranchers. But know that consensus has even taken root in business – under the right circumstances.


Do This, Not That 

If you make presentations to people – and who doesn’t – here are 31 things to avoid.


Humor is a Funny Thing 

The United States is in a bad mood. I was talking with a group of smart people recently who agreed that there’s a general sense of malaise these days. I’m not suggesting there isn’t good reason for it, but we’re taking inconsequential things and ourselves pretty seriously these days – maybe too seriously. People are looking for reasons to be crabby. Presenting to people means connecting with them, and connections can be nurtured by lightening the mood when you can.


We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This

Running better gatherings of people is an exercise in understanding human behavior. Here are the simple basics.


Telling It Like It Isn’t

You probably realize that what comes out of your mouth is often irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Your non-verbal messages are always being broadcast. And when you are speaking, your paralanguage (No, not parrot language) is a big part of what people are paying attention to.


Dispute Resolution, Community Engagement, and Meeting Facilitation Training

The Participation Company (TPC) facilitates, consults, coaches, and trains public and private sector people about community conflicts and public engagement programs. Our job is helping you do yours.

2018 IAP2 Public Participation Foundations (5-day) classes:

  • Boulder, CO (3-Day Planning) – January 31-February 2, 2018
  • Phoenix, AZ – March 19-23, 2018
  • Arlington, VA – April 9-13
  • Minneapolis, MN – July 30-August 3
  • Chicago, IL – September 24-28
  • Orlando, FL – October 15-19

2018 IAP2 Strategies for Dealing with Opposition and Outrage in Public Participation (2-day) classes:

  • Salt Lake City, UT – March 26-27
  • Orange County, CA – April 19-20
  • Los Angeles, CA – April 26-27
  • Denver, CO – June 28-29
  • Minneapolis, MN – July 26-27
  • Chicago, IL – October 18-19

IAP2 courses from The Participation Company are eligible for Certification Maintenance (CM) credits through The American Planning Association (APA)’s professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Visit our website to register to join us and watch for more IAP2 and other original TPC courses coming up. We also work with our public and private sector clients to customize in-house training, coaching and facilitation for their specific challenges.