Sally Field, Trust and People Who Like Goat Yoga: March Newsletter

Dear Valued Associate,

I saw former FBI Director James Comey speak a few weeks ago. Regardless of how you actually feel about him, he’s an interesting guy – and really tall. He talked about focusing on ‘the good that follows the bad’, which, as you can imagine, serves him pretty well these days. He also pointed out that fixing the problems of a divided country won’t succeed by just trying to convince ‘other’ people to act or believe differently, and we won’t survive long by just overwhelming the ‘others’ by increasing our power and decreasing theirs. We need to relocate our common values. Historically, in the U.S. those common values have included truth, justice, character, fairness, the rule of law and the common good – we’re kind of unique in the whole human experience. Most of us would probably agree that those values have been stretched into something weird and unrecognizable lately. At some point, we’ll need to have a lot of conversations to figure out if it’s changed who we really are. Get ready for it, and …

Stay curious,


“… you like me, right now, you like me!”

– Sally Field

That classic and often misquoted quote from Sally Fields’ Academy Award acceptance speech speaks to one of Robert Cialdini’s principles from his groundbreaking book, Influence. The idea being that communication that truly influences people resides in seven factors – one of which is the fact that we respond well to people that we like and not so much to people that we don’t (like). So if you’re trying to get a point across, you are as much or more important than the content that you’re trying to convey. People need to buy into the messenger before they’ll buy into the message.


Who Do You Trust?

A Harris Poll just released their 2019 corporate reputation ranking that you’ll find interesting. Perhaps not so much the businesses that occupy most of the 100 listed, but I think you’ll find the institution at the very bottom noteworthy – and check out the listings one and two spaces just up from the very bottom.


BS on the Internet

One of the factors that tell you whether or not the people that you’re dealing with will be angry or concerned, and to what extent, about your proposed issue or project, has to do with the memorability of the issue. Things that generate a lot of publicity, attention and street talk – true or not – tend to stick in people’s brains better and that alone adds to their anger or fear. It used to be that TV and newspaper coverage was the biggest driver, but conventional news now pales in comparison to social media, which is where more people get their information from and then form opinions about that information. At a time when there were fewer broadcast and print news sources, there was probably a greater level of journalism accountability so, arguably, news may have been more trustworthy. Since traditional media deregulation and the bombardment of the 24-hour news cycle, and the more recent explosion of people constantly connected to that electronic Superfund site we call the internet and social media, there’s little or no truth and accuracy accountability – but endless attention. OK, ok, I know, calling the internet a Superfund site sounds like a crabby old man complaining about cold soup, but in spite of the enumerable benefits and advancements, we’re fools if we don’t consider and manage the consequences.


Sorry is Still the Hardest Word

The power of an apology can’t be dismissed. When people feel like they’ve been mistreated, nothing less than an apology by the perpetrator will suffice – if you want some kind of decent relationship with the mistreated. But it’s incredibly difficult for ego driven people to accept or do it. Their excuses are endless but sometimes claimed as the legal liability of admitting guilt. An apology is, in fact, a willingness to accept responsibility, not necessarily an admission of guilt and legal liability. Smart communicators know how to handle the nuances. Recently, I’ve had people wondering whether or not it might be beneficial, or even ethical, to apologize for something that they haven’t actually done. Interesting question – consider this.

‘I’m sorry, I did it, and I can only imagine how much that must have hurt you.’

Helping People Get Comfortable with Change

Communication and engagement is at the core of successfully driving change in any organization or business, and with any kind of issue or project that requires public support. Human nature means that people will almost always opt for the status quo rather than any kind of change because change is risky and scary. Here’s what’s required.


People Are Fun to Look At

Oh, go head, admit it, you like watching people – we all do. I know you’ve played the people-watching game of guessing who the person really is – secret agent, Sean Hannity fangirl, snooty rich-dude, someone who practices goat yoga, etc. Accurately reading people’s intent and emotions is a really useful skill in the work that we do and here are seven (7) useful tips for you.

When you find yourself in a presenter’s role, there are some things that you can do to help you connect with the people you’re trying to reach – here are five (5) specifics.

And, on that note, when you’re trying to connect to and communicate with a roomful of people, here are some additional thoughts.


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 help you make the disgruntled, gruntled. Our job is helping you do yours.

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

· Fort Collins, CO – April 2-3 (Techniques Only)

· Chicago, IL – April 29-May 3

· Salt Lake City, UT – May 1-3 (Planning)/June 3-4 (Techniques)

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

· Santa Ana, CA – September 24-26 (Planning)/November 20-21 (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) classes:

· Chicago, IL – July 25-26

· St. Paul, MN – October 7-8

· Phoenix, AZ – November 18-19

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 work mostly with a variety of 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).