May Newsletter: Dialogue, Egos & Story Time

Dear Valued Associate,

This week is one of my favorite annual work events. Every year around this time I get to spend several days with a bunch of extremely smart graduate students on the brink of launching their careers. They’re committed, enthusiastic, not yet jaded and teaching them always gets my juices flowing – it’s a gas. I hope your week is just as good.

Stay curious,



It’s All About That Dialogue, No Trouble

This newsletter offers varying ideas and approaches for engaging and communicating better with the public, including presentations, words, (re)building trust, opposition, better meetings, conflict resolution and all the related subjects. But the real core of our (TPC’s) consulting and training practice is building and nurturing dialogue among people. Sometimes there’s confusion about what that actually means and I think this piece offers a sound explanation.


Beware the Trolls; They’re Us

We talk a lot in these emails about understanding and dealing with public conflict and anger but we don’t often get into the subject of online bullies and trolls. Fact is, humans are naturally wired to cooperate, but online anonymity is a game changer – trolls have nothing to lose and even normally reasonable people can turn into Internet bullies. Advertising fuels the web and corporate algorithms designed to keep us clicking and coming back to sell ads can encourage bad behavior. The truth is, we’re being had, folks.


Dumb & Dumber

The “Curse of Knowledge” suggests that experts in almost any field find it difficult to communicate and connect with people who aren’t also expert or at least extremely knowledgeable. We help our clients bridge that communication gap, so I thought you’d appreciate this take on the subject.


It Starts with Connections

Developing and nurturing dialogue has to start with communication and connecting. And that requires curiosity, empathy, finding core values, consistency and practice – lots of practice.

I think Alexander Graham Bell started us down this long, dark road of lousy communication. We have to blame somebody and he seems an easy choice. We connect (or don’t, actually) with each other in the most impersonal and superficial ways and that’s having a profound effect on how society functions.


What is Possible When Consensus is Impossible

Some of our clients’ problems seem hopeless, with consensus among the varying parties feeling inconceivable. But we’ve found, over time, that getting the parties together creates the atmosphere where much is possible.


Ego is a Monster

Our courses on outrage spend time differentiating among true outrage, self interest and ego. Ego is one monster requiring special care. Here’s one mediator’s solution.


Once Upon a Presentation

A lot of government’s face time with the public often involves making presentations to groups in semi-formal public meeting settings. If the issue in question is not very controversial and the agency has earned and nurtured a level of trust with their public audience, there’s a good chance that people will be willing to listen to what you have to say. That’s your cue to tell ‘em your story.


Sorry Doesn’t Have To Be the Hardest Word

Sincere apology is a necessary part of dealing with emotional people when those people have been wronged. How do you think Kevin Johnson did?



Public Outrage, Involvement and Group Facilitation Training

Learn how and why agencies and municipalities succeed or fail in their dealings with the public and moving issues forward. The Participation Company (TPC) facilitates, consults, coaches and trains public and private sector people about their community conflicts and public engagement programs. Our job is helping you do yours.

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

·       Lakewood, CO – July 23-25 (Planning only)

·       Minneapolis, MN – July 30-August 3

·       Boulder, CO – August 1-2 (Techniques only)

·       Chicago, IL – September 24-28

·       Orlando, FL – October 15-19

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

·       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).

Click here 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.

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