Wednesday Smart Shibboleth #4: Destructive Language Decimates Trust

Word Count: 170 words (~ 1 minute, 5 seconds reading time)

Leadership language choices in difficult situations are often early indicators of the dysfunctional nature of leadership. In fact, their behaviors and language choices are often diagnostic of this dysfunction. Here are some examples to watch for:

  1. Denial
  2. Defensiveness
  3. Deflection
  4. Denigration
  5. Disrespect
  6. Demeaning
  7. Discrediting
  8. Disdain

Not only do these behaviors, attitudes, and language choices destroy trust, they create victims, critics, and angry people, families, and organizations.

These negative examples waste time, often trigger similar even more emotionally negative responses in return, foster contentiousness, confrontation, contempt, confusion, and consternation. These behavior choices are likely to require strong, positive, remedial behaviors.

Watch for the Shibboleth on reputation and trust recovery following a crisis.

James E. Lukaszewski

Americas Crisis Guru®
ABC, Fellow IABC; APR, Fellow PRSA; PRSA BEPS Emeritus 2015

Jim’s Wisdom #37: Your Pocket Decency Manifesto

Starting Back Up The Path To Decency: a Manifesto

Why a manifesto?

Seven big reasons:

  1. To anticipate an answer to the most important questions for those interested in building a decency-based workplace culture, before they are asked.
  2. To trigger and answer in advance the crucial questions you need to see, hear, and resolve. They will be about developing decency, civility, and integrity in your workplace.
  3. To anticipate and answer in advance the questions that bother you most about what’s happening in our culture; the decency denial and deficit in America’s workplaces and in your workplace.
  4. To help you bring your personal views of decency, civility, and integrity from your personal life, family community, and home into your working life.
  5. To reveal the many pathways available to decency, civility, integrity, and trust.
  6. Learn to recognize and prevent the victimization indecency and incivility cause.
  7. Recognize and prevent leadership and management misbehaviors that trigger the incivility, and unconscionable behaviors that contaminate decent and civil culture.

The Pocket Decency Manifesto is your daily to-do list to inspire, to motivate, and to stimulate your energy and efforts in building a decency driven workplace. There are critical ingredients here designed to help you protect, defend, and preserve what you and others achieve along the path to a decency driven workplace.

Good luck.

Word count: 286 words (1 minute 40 seconds) 

1. The Nine Pillars Of A Decency Driven Workplace 

Candor: truth with an attitude delivered right now.  
Civility: patience, empathy, curiosity, tolerance. Small decencies. 
Ethics: seek ideal conduct, go the right way first, reject all alternatives and wrong ways. 
Humility: being humble; maintain modest opinion of one’s own importance or rank. 
Integrity: honest consideration and inclusion of other points of view. 
Openness: seeking and promptly addressing the concerns of others. 
Responsiveness: do it now, change it now, fix it now, stop it now, start it now. 
Reticence: resist the corrosiveness of negativity, criticism, and arrogance.  
Trust: Seek the absence of fear because fear is the absence of trust. 

2. The Three Most Powerful Civilities 

Listening: the greatest civility we can show another human being. 
Positivity: the only path to a successful future. All other routes lead only to trouble. 
Small Decencies: the principal ingredients of trust, respect, humility, acceptance, and greatness. 

3. The Most Crucial Ingredients Of A Decency Driven Workplace 

Obsession with civility, decency, humility, integrity, modesty, truth, and trust. 
Walk the talk: in every assembly, communication, conversation, document, event, meeting, proposal, and pitch.  
Immerse every idea, suggestion, attitude, and behavior in decency. 
Interpret everything in the context of civility, decency, integrity, trust, and truthfulness. 
Aggressively block, expose, and eliminate all barriers, interference, reluctance, and disparagement of decency, civility, and humility initiatives.  
Shun those who: belittle, demean, deny, denigrate, disparage, or espouse opposition to decency, civility, and truth. Your destiny is up to you to protect, defend, and preserve. 

James E. Lukaszewski

ABC, Fellow IABC, APR, Fellow PRSA, BEPS Emeritus (2015) 

James E. Lukaszewski is a well-known writer, author, teacher, scholar, and lecturer in American Public Relations. 
Mainstreet Village, 7601 Lyndale Ave S, STE 32, Richfield MN 

Wednesday’s Smart Shibboleth #3: Manager of First Impressions – The Two-Minute Schmooze

Word Count: 413 (2 minutes, 45 seconds)

Steve Harrison, one of three founders and Chairman of Lee Hecht Harrison, the world’s leading Talent management company, had just hired a new COO, Ray. He had an MBA and was recently retired from the US Army with the rank of brigadier general.

So he could get to know as many people as possible, Steve took Ray on a tour of the company. At their first branch office stop, Melissa, the receptionist, was on duty.

“How are you, Melissa?” Steve asked.

“Fine. And you, Steve?”

“Great. Have a good day.”

“You too.”

Steve proceeded toward the interior offices, but Ray pulled them back to Melissa’s desk.

After introducing himself, Ray launched a dialogue with Melissa. “How long have you been with us?” “How did you hear about us?” “What did you do before you joined our firm?” “What kind of dog is that in the picture?” “What do you think of this business we’re in together?” The collaborative language was infectious. It communicated that Ray and Melissa were in the enterprise as equal partners. Ray also asked Melissa if she had any questions. He waited, Melissa asked a couple, Ray answered them candidly. Melissa was clearly delighted with the exchange.

Finally Ray said, “Well, nice to meet you, Melissa. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’. I look forward to seeing you next time I’m here.”

With that, Ray and Steve went inside to meet the rest of the staff.

Steve asked Ray, “What was that all about?”

Ray said, “That’s called the two-minute schmooze! Receptionists meet or talk to more people critical to our company in one month than you or I ever do in a year: people at all levels, from all our branches everywhere, our customers, suppliers, colleagues, bosses, applicants, and job seekers. Most of all, receptionists talk to each other. They are a key part of our reputation.”

Ray’s two-minute schmooze is how Steve first learned the power of small decencies, its perfect example of decent leadership and the impact small decencies can have on organizations.

Sometime later Steve authorized LHH receptionists to have business cards with the job title: Manager of First Impressions.

Lee Hecht Harrison is now The LHH Division of Adecco, the world’s largest job placement agency, based in Switzerland. In 2021, Steve and Jim Lukaszewski coauthored the book “The Decency Code: The Leader’s Path to Civility, Integrity, and Trust”, © 2021 McGraw Hill. This story is on pages 46-48.

*Shibboleth, Jim’s Definition: practical information you can use today and tomorrow, and lasts a long time.

Wednesday Smart Shibboleth #2: The Ten Constructive Ethical Intentions of Public Relations

Word Count: 200 words (reading time: 1 minute, 30 sec)

Getting a Handle on Ethical PR

1. Candor:

truth with an attitude, right now!

2. Openness:

the willingness to talk, listen, converse, teach, explain.

3. Truthfulness:

unconditional honesty from the start.

4. Apology:

admission, explanation, lessons learned, forgiveness seeking, restitution, the moment they are needed.

5. Responsiveness:

answering every question, whatever the source; keep answering and re-answering questions until the questions stop.

6. Preemptiveness:

provide the questions people should be asking with answers before they need to ask.

7. Empathy:

actions speak louder than words, let the deeds do the talking.

8. Transparency:

do only what you want your mother to know about.

9. Engagement:

the most powerful communication always takes place face-to-face. The greatest decency is careful, engaged listening.

10. Correct and Clarify:

It’s YOUR destiny. Explain, describe, clarify, and correct promptly, or someone else will, and you won’t like it.

*Shibboleth, Jim’s Definition: practical information you can use today and tomorrow, and lasts a long time.

Wednesday Smart Shibboleth #1: Bad News Ripens Badly

170 words = reading time: 1 minute

Even the slightest delay in exposing, disclosing, and explaining bad news always quickly morphs into unexplainable situations. You can argue and debate this. Many have tried. but the time consumed in your debate is seen as silly and unexplainable. In every situation where I have witnessed bad news delayed, denied, deferred, or dismissed, the actual bad news quickly no longer mattered.

The fatal career damage comes from the inability, reluctance and frankly naive arrogance of leaders failing to immediately, convincingly, explain with humility, why they waited so long to do something, say something, take at least minimally humane and empathetic action, assume at least some portion of responsibility while victims and damage accumulated.

I often describe these reputationally toxic behaviors as straight face test failures, laugh test failures, integrity failures. Stalling, delaying, denying and blame shifting will topple, dissolve, destroy even the most successful, visible, promising, and “locked in” senior level careers.

*Shibboleth, Jim’s Definition: practical information you can use today.

How to Remove Indecency and Incivility from Your Life

An important to do list to a better, happier, more successful life: This is a life saving and happiness recovery strategy.

An important to do list to a better, happier, more successful life: This is a life saving and happiness recovery strategy. The metaphor is the warning you get when you’re on an airliner: in case of sudden loss of cabin air pressure, put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then help others.This document reflects the ongoing loss of civility and decency in our lives and is designed to be your civility and decency “oxygen mask”. Do these for yourself first. That will enable you to help others.

Continue reading “How to Remove Indecency and Incivility from Your Life”

America’s Civility and Decency Manifesto

Welcome to parts one and two of America’s Civility and Decency Manifesto. In this issue we feature two elements of the manifesto.


Welcome to parts one and two of America’s Civility and Decency Manifesto. In this issue we feature two elements of the manifesto. The first comes from Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, who on June 9th, 2017 was inspired to initiate a national conversation about moral responsibilities of businesses. In our book, The Decency Code: The Leader’s Path to Building Integrity and Trust, Steve Harrison and I have taken elements of Tim Cook’s MIT commencement address and transformed them into the first part of America’s Civility and Decency Manifesto.In part two, The Civility Credo, Jim Lukaszewski proposes an actionable definition of defines a manifesto as, “A public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives….” We would add the word “brief” and hope that you will find that as this document grows it will be useful in helping you develop your personal and organizational intentions, opinions and objectives in a way that is civil, decent and actionable.

Continue reading “America’s Civility and Decency Manifesto”