Phones Were Actually Once Used to Call People – Honest! February Newsletter

Dear Valued Associate,

Punxsutawney Phil crawled out of his burrow on Groundhog Day and did not see his shadow, which means six more episodes of Gwyneth Paltrow selling organic cucumber colon cleansers on Netflix. In honor of this occasion, here’s a wide ranging smorgasbord of ideas and tips that I think you’ll find useful. TPC wants to let you know how much we value you this Valentine’s Day. Stay warm, and …

Stay curious,



Listen Up!

Active listening is a big but often disregarded part of real communication and public engagement, but sometimes it’s easy to forget the true core of why it’s so important. People who believe that they’re actually being heard feel like the listener cares about them and what they have to say. That empathic act builds bridges and fosters connection. Yes, it’s that important.


The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

It’s a tough work environment for people in a lot of organizations these days with forced changes, shutdowns and shifting priorities. People are on edge, and understandably so. Keeping things moving internally usually falls on the shoulders of communicators and group leaders, so I thought you might be able to use some suggestions on communicating when people aren’t in the mood to communicate.


The Catastrophic Consequence of Communication Failure

Time flies. It’s hard to believe that it was 33 years ago – just last month – that STS-51-L, the Space Shuttle Challenger, exploded 73 seconds after launch, taking the lives of seven astronauts, including Christa McAuliffe, a high school teacher from New Hampshire. Much has been written, documented, re-enacted and produced detailing the events leading up to that disaster, and a new film explores the events leading up to that cold Florida morning. I doubt there’s ever been a more prominent example of engineering, management, group-think, public perception, politics and communication failures and consequence. Will we ever learn.


Women Really Don’t Trust You

We’ve often referenced the Edelman Trust Barometer as one credible source for a lot of ongoing evidence that shows people just don’t trust institutions – especially government. Turns out, some of the most recent data indicates that women are even less trusting than men when it comes to institutions.


Fake News

One of our regular training workshops deals – in part – with why people fall for things that aren’t true, and why they dismiss the things that are provable and real. Here’s a take on that subject from the New York Times. (Assuming you don’t think the New York Times only prints fake news.)

And on that subject of fact vs. perception, there’s a popular belief among some folks that crime is on a rampage here in the good ole U.S. of A. So before you buy another gun for protection, get a load of this.


Investigative Science and the Challenge of Outrage

This story supports the old adage of no good deed goes unpunished. Most of the people that we work with, particularly those working in the public sector, are believers in the greater good – they do things for the right, ethical reasons. But more and more we find smart people who are trying to do good work, clashing with raw, human emotion. That’s never been more evident than in Flint.


Don’t Call Me

Way, waaay back in the olden days (like almost 20 years ago) when you wanted to communicate with somebody, you could actually pick up a phone, call them, and they, in turn … would actually answer it, and talk to you. No – really! But, that ship has sailed, and we now need to learn how to reach people in this new virtual, untrusting reality. Here are a few things to think about.


Government Doesn’t Operate Like a Business

Because it isn’t a business, it serves a different purpose and the goals just aren’t the same. Government can learn a lot from good companies and C-suite managers, but government isn’t a capitalistic enterprise and it shouldn’t be. Sometimes corporate arrogance oversteps wisdom when executives make the jump to the public side of life. It was a lesson I learned when I left the private sector for a government agency job 30 years ago. More business people seem to be running public entities these days and that culture clash can be tough on everyone. I learned, working both inside an agency, and later for a Fortune 50 corporation, that the public sector is always more publicly accountable, requires consensus to get things done, lives under a relentless microscope and as a result, moves painfully slow – and all for good reason.

And on the subject of arrogance, hubris is just about the worst trait you can bring to the party, particularly when trust is low and concern and public scrutiny are high. Consider a little humility.

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

We help you succeed and build partnerships 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.

2019 open IAP2 ‘Public Participation Foundations’ (5-day) classes:

·       Arlington, VA (Washington DC) – March 4-8

·       Fort Collins, CO – March 6-8 (Planning)/April 2-3 (Techniques)

·       Las Vegas, NV – March 25-29

·       Chicago, IL – April 29-May 3

·       Denver, CO – July 10-12 (Planning)/August 1-2 (Techniques)

·       Kansas City, MO – October 7-11

·       Phoenix, AZ – October 21-25


2019 open IAP2 ‘Strategies for Opposition and Outrage in Public Participation’(2-day) class:

·       Phoenix, AZ – March 28-29

·       Cleveland, OH – April 4-5

·       Chicago, IL – July 25-26

·       St. Paul, MN – October 7-8

2019 open TPC ‘Public Facilitation Essentials’ (3-day) class:

·       Denver, CO – November 12-14

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 look for more IAP2 and other original TPC courses coming up. We mostly work with a variety of public and private sector clients to customize in-house training, coaching and facilitation for their specific challenges. We’re your huckleberries.

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


Remember, we waste considerable time scanning the worldwide interweb so you don’t have to.