Tact, Questions, Talking Tips and Bad News: December Newsletter

Dear Valued Associate,
In the spirit of the season I remember a quote by Thomas Paine (the Common Sense guy) who said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” On that note, 2019 may test democracy more than it’s been tested in a very long time, and go down as one of the most interesting years in the history of the United States, so tighten your seat belts, it’s going to get bumpy
As it is a December newsletter tradition, I’ll leave you this month with one of my favorite two-liners of the past year: ‘Some guy gave me his Epi-Pen as he was dying. It seemed very important to him that I have it.’ (rimshot)
Have the happiest of holidays, and Merry Christmas – nearly everybody – I hope you wear out your mistletoe.
Stay curious,

Try to Communicate With Some Tact, You Jerk

The author of this piece notes that it’s odd talking about this subject in this day and age but if we have any hope of fixing public conversations, it’s a skill set that needs to be relearned.

Start With a Question, Not Just Your Argument

Most institutions start their encounters and meetings with the public intending to transfer the data and information that exists in their heads, across the room or table and into other people’s heads. Typically, they lay out their best argument (which worked well for them in graduate school) and, if there’s any possible disagreement to it, the public responds with their best and louder counter-argument. And thus begins a series of one-sided speeches and accusations where neither side listens to or hears the other.
Questions are the most effective and empathic way to communicate with and connect with people. Ask them well.

Eight Tips on Talking With People – from the Best

I spent most of my earlier career years interviewing lots of different kinds of people about lots of topics, which was fertile training ground for the kind of work that we now do. So if you’re interested in getting better at drawing the values, needs and interests from people that you’re engaging, click on the following. There’s no one better at the art of meaningful conversation than Terry Gross.

Delivering Bad News in a Better Way

Government exists to provide for the common welfare. That means government is usually in the business of resolving conflicts for the greater good – or at least it’s supposed to. The greater good is frequently complex and almost always means compromise or some kind of consensus. But even when public institutions do that well, some people come out on the short end of the stick – they come away with less than what they might have hoped for. At some point government organizations will always be delivering bad news (or less than great news) to someone. Maintaining credibility and trust means delivering that news well. Here are the three fundamental rules.

Same Message, Different Audience = Different Approach

I just spent a couple of days with a group of very smart Midwest State agency people coaching their engineers to speak less like engineers when they’re speaking to people who aren’t engineers. A couple of my partners recently helped a Federal agency with a major public meeting that I was able to poke my head in on via Facebook feed. It was painful to watch high ranking government officials deliver their speeches to real people and continually fail to connect with anything that their audience needed or wanted to hear or understood. This widening disconnect between us and people who manage our collective good just doesn’t have to be that way.

Tell Me a Story

You have one, you know … we all do. The facts, data and information that you need to impart to people make up much of the content of the story that you need to tell, but reciting facts and data alone don’t tell the story. Use that information to tell it; here’s how.

Managing Public Participation, Opposition and (Re) Building Trust Training

We’ll help you succeed with the public. The Participation Company (TPC) facilitates, consults, coaches and trains civil service, NGO and business people about their community conflicts and building effective public engagement programs. We’ll help you make the disgruntled, gruntled. Our job is helping you do yours.
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