Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook

What a wonderful way to show the children and teachers of Sandy Hook how much they are being thought of and prayed for - and what a simple and easy way to do so ....

Connecticut PTSA is collecting snowflakes to create a "WINTER WONDERLAND" for Sandy Hook students. See the note below:

"Snowflakes for Sandy Hook = Please help the students of Sandy Hook have a winter wonderland at their new school! Get Creative!!  No two snowflakes are alike. Make and send snowflakes to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT  06514, by January 12, 2013. "

Please join us at Peace4 the Missing 
Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How to handle the media during a crisis

When is the last time you put your foot in your mouth at work when somebody thrust you on the hot seat with a difficult question or personal attack?

Sometimes the simple words we utter under pressure create anger, retribution, public embarrassment, lost productivity, misplaced blame, legal nightmares, career land mines, or worse.

What do you say to your staff when you must carry out policies that both you and they hate? What do you say when an employee asks you about the CEO's obvious favoritism?

These and hundreds of others are, indeed, very tough questions, yet there are better ways to respond (no, not easy, but better).

When we're under attack by the news media or co-workers, most of us react counterproductively. We attack back, deny, argue or play the blame game. That just escalates the conflict.

Instead, gain control of tough questions and lead the momentum to your positive information, or wherever you want to direct everyone's attention. To do that, learn and practice a few simple techniques that experienced communicators use to defuse verbal land mines, as demonstrated in Manager's Tough Questions Answer Book, (c) Copyright, 1966, Prentice Hall.

"No comment" is usually dumber than dumb.
Every good communications consultant says it's dumb to say "no comment", and they're right. The void you leave with "no comment" will be filled immediately by your enemies. If you can't comment, at least explain why you can't comment.

Don't lie
First and last, don't lie. Regardless of its morality, lying in response to tough questions is tactically stupid. You have to make up the lie, then continuously invent more lies to support the first, and remember all of them while being bombarded with more hostile questions.
You will not remember all of them accurately, which will become obvious. Then you will have the original problem plus the new one of being caught in lies. Washington has lots of pubic figures and high-powered executives who never seem to learn that lesson.

Gain control with a response, not an answer
Answers are limited to the literal meaning of the question. A response goes deeper by addressing major concerns surrounding the question. Most people mistakenly think they must answer the question as asked. Absolutely false. Life isn't a courtroom drama where you are forced to pigeonhole your comments or say something you don't want.

Customer: "I told you that your employee treated me rudely. Are you just going to let him get away with that?"
Here you want to assure the customer that you are concerned and will act responsibly, but you don't want to reveal any personnel action you will or won't take. Instead of irritating the unhappy customer by saying you won't discuss possible discipline, you could "respond" this way:
Manager: "I believe that you have been offended, and I promise you it will not happen again. I'm going to look into this as soon as we're done talking here. That is not the way our associates have been trained to deal with customers."

Bridge to your positive information
Redirecting questions is easy once you grasp the most effective technique: bridging. You can use a bridge of words to answer the basic question and then move toward the points you want to emphasize.
Done right, the method can simultaneously satisfy questioners and then transfer attention from your alleged problem to your solution or best action.
A great bridge that helps you stall a moment to gather your thoughts is the easy-to-remember "past-present-future".
Give yourself time by briefly stating what happened (past) and what is happening now (present). While you are stating somewhat obvious past and current events, your mind forms a response that will describe your positive view for the future, the only place where new improvement can be created.
When an elderly customer died after electric service was accidentally disconnected at her Illinois home several years ago, the utility gave an excellent past-present-future response:
Question: "How could you make such a terrible mistake?"
Response: "The accidental disconnection was a tragic mistake, and we take responsibility for it. We have expressed our sincere regret and condolences to the family and offered any assistance. We will be reviewing all of our procedures to see what changes need to be made so nothing like this can happen again."
Another very effective bridge is: "I understand what you are asking. Lots of people are concerned about that, but they need to know...(give your important points)."
This bridge quickly makes it clear that you have heard and understood the questioner's concerns. It further shows that he is like other normal people who might think that way. After giving the crucial acknowledgment of the person and his concerns, your response moves on to what "they need to know...(your important points)."

Admit to mistakes, then move on!
Admitting obvious mistakes sounds like common sense, but how often do you hear people admit to them?  Refusing to admit to obvious mistakes makes people think you are hiding something.
Friends and fans or bosses and colleagues won't grant forgiveness until we confess and atone.  Get rid of the drag by briefly acknowledging obvious errors; then bridge to corrective actions.
Sometimes answering with complete candor won't be wise, so respond to the context or general situation instead. For example, if you are a mid-level manager whose staff bravely ask, "How can you implement that policy when you know it's so wrong?"
Instead of foolishly falling on your sword and refusing to implement the policy, or telling the staff to just do as they are told, you could say:
"If everybody here obeyed only the directions they liked, we'd have chaos in an hour. I gave my opinion, they made a decision, and it's going to be done by me and done very well. If you're as wise as I think you are, you will do the same."

Show understanding to gain more credibility
One way to insure that no one accepts your response is to ignore or insult other viewpoints. Our society deems it a virtue to have an open mind and show respect for other ideas. That doesn't mean you have to agree with them, but acknowledge their views respectfully.
"I understand what you are asking and why it concerns you so much...." Say this only if you really do understand and are sincere. If you are not, it will show and, again, you will be worse off.

Don't throw fuel on the fire
The words you choose for responding to tough questions can mean the difference between putting out the fire or fanning the flames higher. Angry questioners can become incensed when they hear certain words or phrases they feel insult or demean them.
Bad: "You should have..."
Better: "One option you could have considered..."
Bad: "You're wrong, that's not what I said..."
Better: "If that's what you thought you heard me say, then I didn't explain myself as well as I would like. Let me try again..."
The last response (...I didn't explain myself well, let me try again) is a superb bridge when someone misquotes your earlier comments. 

Don't start another argument by telling the person he's got it all wrong. Side step the thrust by taking control with that bridge, and re-explain what you meant to say. It will subtly but amply make it clear that the questioner had it wrong, but you won't have a second issue to fight about.

Please join us at Peace4 the Missing 
Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network

Say Happy Mother’s Day in a way that will last

What Can I Do? – Make a Difference on Mother’s Day

If you’re the guy who wakes up the Saturday before Mother’s Day and orders flowers, you’re not alone.  This year, the  National Retail Federation says we’ll spend $1.9 Billion doing just that.  It’s all part of the business that Mother’s Day has become: Flowers, Brunch, Cards, etc – all adding up to $14.6 Billion in the US.
The thing is, most of what we buy for Mom on her day isn’t going to last.  That’s what’s special about the campaign that Stacey Monk and the crew atEpic Change are running this Mother’s Day: They’re giving you a chance to tell your “Mama” you love her, and to make a lasting difference in a child’s life at the same time.
Just visit their site: To Mama With Love and you’ll see.  Each “Heartspace” created is a tribute.  And each tribute drives a donation to help Mama Lucy Kamptoni continue her mission to teach and house children in Tanzania. If the work she’s done so far is any indication, the money you donate will be very well spent. Mama Lucy started a school that grew from 10 students in 2003 to over 400 kids today.  the proceeds from this campaign will help build boarding facilities to house and shelter up to 50 more students.
So far more than 190 “Heartspaces” have been created, and more than $10,000 has been generated for the cause.
Why does it work? Love is at the core of the holiday, and the campaign. I spoke with Stacey Monk this morning, and asked her why her company chose to support Mama Lucy.  Stacey’s enthusiastic reply?
Because I love her! and anything we do for love is going to work.”
I know my Mom would say much the same. How about yours?
Doing your part is pretty simple. Here are the directions from the site
  1. Create a heartspace
    for a mom you love by giving in her honor.
  2. Show your love
    by personalizing your heartspace with words, photos, and/or video.
  3. Send a Mother’s Day e-card
    with a link to the heartspace you”ve created.
  4. Your mother’s day present just changed the world.
How easy is it?  I did it in about 10 minutes. (Hi Mom!)
Can’t give? Tweet. A nifty cause-branding component is attached to the effort.  Organic Beauty Now donates $1 per tweet (up to $2000) if you use the hashtag #tomamawithlove.
Why should you do this instead of sending flowers? I think Stacey said it best this morning: “If you give people a chance to connect to something with their hearts, that energy can create a whole movement.
So go ahead. Say Happy Mother’s Day in a way that will last. And make a difference in some child’s life.

Please join us at Peace4 the Missing
Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The 536,112,000 Seconds of Trayvon Martin's Life

I needn't wear the color of your skin to feel the pain of your soul.

Trayvon Martin as a baby
My near alabaster white, almost 6 months old, baby boy is playing with his feet on a blanket upon our family room floor.  He's not even been here on earth for half a year, yet I have already invested so much of myself into the life of this, my precious little man.

They say it goes so fact - and it does - however there's also so much time, energy, sweat, faith, worry, joy, tears, agony, pride, LOVE that goes along with the "it" of raising a child.

We literally put our own lives into these little human beings of ours.  Even when we're not technically with them our thoughts still remain by their side.  Once you become a Mother you ARE a Mom ALL of the time, always, for life.

Greeting them each morning with hope, kissing them goodnight each bedtime while covering them with prayer.

Every single day your heart goes with them.  Every single day of their lives your heart gets torn apart, put back together, stomped on, lifted up, filled up, worn out ...

Every single day your heart, the heart of a Mama - is bursting, literally bursting out of its seams with love - LOVE - for your precious, sent from God Himself above, child.

Trayvon Martin had recently turned 17 years old.  Which means that Sybrina's heart had invested, at minimum, 6,205 days into her son.

6,205 days, 148,920 hours, 8,935,200 minutes invested into this child of God that one man in 1 second would choose to extinguish.

His Mother put over 536,112,000 seconds into raising Trayvon - is it really too much to expect George Zimmerman to have taken just 1 second more to think prior to taking the life of this child??

The Family website of Trayvon Martin -

Sara Huizenga, Founder of Peace4 the Missing
Missing Persons Awareness and Support Network