Concise Advice #19: Your Mother Was Wrong About One Thing

“Words will never hurt you…,”
Is a Total Lie.

Remember, when you were five years old, and the first time you got beat up and shouted at on the playground by some kid you didn’t even know? Mom and Dad or Grandma and Grandpa said, “There, there…sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you!”. By age nine you knew this was a total lie. Abusive, Demeaning, Uncivil, Unconscionable Language, and Accusations victimize, producing hidden wounds that last a lifetime.

When those words and deeds come back to haunt you, unless you say something, you always suffer alone. That’s because wounds from words are:

  • Bloodless
  • Lifelong
  • Invisible
  • Irreversible
  • Revictimizing
  • Scarless
  • Unhealable
  • * Experiences of Others Can Trigger your Sudden Devastating Reliving of a Prior Experience of Anger, Fear, Terror, and Hurt.

*The last item is the worst, the sudden revictimizing suffered when something outrageous in someone else’s life triggers terrible and painful memories from your own life. The anger, terror, fear, and hurt rush back, you can’t stop it. Whenever I talk about sexual harassment, for example, or assault, I assume that at least 40% of the female members in the audience are reliving something awful from their past life.

In Every Culture:
There are words and behaviors you can never
take back, words that cause lifetime victimization
and suffering of others and yourself.

What I Believe and You Should Too

Appalling, questionable, inappropriate, unethical, unconscionable, immoral, predatory, improper, victim-producing, and criminal behaviors are intentional. Adults choosing to harm, damage, embarrass, or victimize.

I Also Believe

Compassionate, decent, honorable, lawful behaviors, leadership decisions, and moral behaviors are also intentional.

You Already Know This

The choice is always clear and always yours.

Remember and Apply
the Ingredients of Decency First


Keep this list handy near your phone, maybe in your wallet, when you are tempted to say or do something that might be irritating or offensive, choose and ingredient of decency instead.

Avoid These Real Causes
of Permanent Victimization

Assault, physical and verbalLies
Bullying, physical and verbalNeglect/negligence

Then, Even Worse are
Unconscionable Behaviors

All are unethical, and most are also evil because their use is diabolically intended to harm and victimize the innocent.

Unconscionable intentions, behaviors, actions, and decisions are those that:

*VilifyExpress Anger and Irritation, to Cause Harm
DamageDemand or bully
DemeanAre Mean
DismissAre Negative
Cause Intentional PainDisparage

Speak Up

Unconscionable intentions, behaviors, actions, and decisions and their perpetrators need to be called out when you see them or hear of them. It’s the only way we can rid ourselves of these behaviors and the people who intentionally abuse us and others with them.

Savvy Ethics Month Edition 1: What is Your Truth Strategy? Liar’s List or Truth Manifesto

Cayce Myers, Ph.D., L.L.M., J.D., APR, PRSA BEPS Member, Member PRSA National Board

By James E. Lukaszewski, ABC, Fellow IABC; APR, Fellow PRSA, PRSA BEPS Emeritus Longest serving member and former co-chair of the PRSA Board of Ethics and Professionals Standards (BEPS)

It seems that liars and bullies dominate the world’s information these days. Both use all too familiar tools and drastic language to keep their oppression intact and the truth hidden or missing. Liars have a toolkit that you’ll find surprising, even familiar. We call it The Liar’s List. These techniques are their verbal and written tools for truth avoidance.

  • Allegories
  • Analogies
  • Balancing
  • Euphemisms
  • Leveling
  • Lies
  • Metaphors
  • “Nuanced Descriptions”
  • Obfuscation
  • Similes
  • Stores
  • Translations, “in other words…”

The Liar’s List

Are you surprised? This is, of course, a list of techniques communicators in practically every culture on the planet use daily. Whether used for good or something else, the one common feature of all these tools is that truth is missing, intentionally. It’s truth avoidance, whatever the purpose, however well-intentioned. People notice, especially the victims of these techniques.

Items on the Liar’s List are never fully truthful and more often are used to avoid being direct, plain-spoken, emotionless, and clearly responsive.

Most of those seeking truth only find truth dodgers and truth avoiders. Truth seekers feel victimized.

The first casualty if you use these techniques is trust loss. Remember, trust lost is replaced with fear, anxiety, uncertainty, doubt, and anger. That’s a big price to pay for the pleasure of telling a cute story rather than the plain truth.

Victims, when confronted with these techniques, get upset because they know that what they need is being purposely avoided. The quickest way to drive victims to a lawyer’s office or seek powerful advocacy assistance is failing to recognize that victims need 5 things:

  • Validation: Recognition, acknowledgment, and validation of their suffering.
  • Visibility: A platform for telling their story in their own words.
  • Vindication: Credit for the impact of their suffering on improving the detection, prevention, deterring, and reduction of future occurrences.
  • Allocution: An admission and apology from the perpetrator or predator.
  • Restoration: Sometimes recovery of damages.

Truth dodging is an insidious problem in the field of communication. For example, storytelling has become a cottage industry in the field, it has become a catchphrase in the communications profession. Stories present major problems:

  • Stories are fabrications. The news story or news release has a snappy headline, a thought-provoking or catchy lead, followed by a beginning, middle, and end usually containing a conclusion, lesson, self-evident truth, or punchline. Not exactly how life actually happens.
  • Stories usually contain bits of truth mixed into their fabrication batter.
  • Stories feel like the truth because we are entertained, and sometimes inspired. However, stories are only partially true, therefore, also partially untrue . . . a lie.

Good communication is truthful, direct, and clear. Ethical public relations practitioners using stories and other techniques from The Liar’s List need to focus on truthful information, narratives, and conclusions. Mindful that partial truth also indicates partial falseness that needs to be revealed and explained. Your trust-ability and credibility is conferred on you by the perception of others reflecting your behaviors and deeds.

Drastic Language – The Bully’s Tools

The vocabulary of bullies is the language of desperation, greed, powerful, corrosive, malicious, and intentionally harmful. Recognize these behaviors and call them out.  

Your Truth Manifesto

“To know the truth and speak of it is helpful, important, and sometimes courageous. To know the truth but equivocate or speak about anything but that truth is willfully harmful, intentionally misleading, and often unethical.” – Unattributed proverb

The Truth Manifesto is designed to help you avoid using the liar’s techniques regardless of how benevolent or helpful your motives. Or, at the very least, help you use them sparingly. The manifesto is a public declaration of your intentions, opinions, objectives, and motives. Truth always relies on simple sensible understandable words and deeds. That’s how you find the truth, often buried in all the rest.

The Truth Manifesto, is something you can easily absorb, use, and teach others.

  1. “When problems or opportunities occur, we’ll be prepared to talk openly about them and act quickly to respond operationally.”
  2. “If the public should know about an issue or problem which could affect them, we will voluntarily talk about it as quickly and as completely as we can.”
  3. “When problems or changes occur, we will keep the community and those affected posted regularly until the problem or changes have been thoroughly explained or resolved.”
  • “We will answer any questions the community or victims may have and suggest and volunteer additional information on matters the community has yet to ask questions about.”
  • “We will be cooperative with all interested news media, but our primary responsibility is to communicate directly with those most affected by our actions as soon and continuously as possible.”
  • “We will respect and seek to work with our critics and those who oppose us.”
  • “We will tell the truth with facts and proof, refraining from truth dodging and avoidance techniques.”

“What Is Your Truth Strategy?”

This is a significant question about your tomorrow. Successful tomorrows have truth and simplicity at their center.

Failing to have a truth strategy or using other items from The Liar’s List simply prolongs, expands, and further blocks getting to the truth. In crisis, especially, bad things get worse before they get better. Failure to seek, identify, and communicate with aggressive truthfulness is the main cause of poor outcomes and failure.

The Truth About Truth Dodging.

Words matter.  Style matters.  Context matters. Looking at The Liar’s List and the conventions of truth avoidance there are some simple ways to communicate truthfully, honestly, and ethically.  The profile of truth, in our experience, is statements and information that are simple, sensible, positive, clearly helpful, constructive, useful, and obviously true. Write less and make it more important and truthful. Say less and make your words memorably truthful. Resist the use of techniques on The Liar’s List.

Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Fewer words often lead to more rapid understanding. Avoiding aggressive, drastic language can reduce contention, foster agreement, and even peace.

Concise Advice #16: The Tools and Playbooks of Decency’s Enemies

Unconscionable actions, decisions, and behaviors

that are intentional, premeditated, injurious, degrading…

unethical…and some tend to be evil.

Decency’s enemies are obvious, expansive, and culturally corrosive. as are the playbooks of bullies, misbehaved buggers, and bad people. These tools and plays are intended to hurt, harm, and harass. Evil targets the innocent.  

Your first response:

Start Naming and blaming the predators and perpetrators.

  1. Arrogance
  2. Beyond the Boundaries of Decency, Civility, and Integrity
  3. Bullying
  4. Defaming
  5. Demeaning
  6. Dismissiveness
  7. Disparaging
  8. Disrespectfulness
  9. Evil
  10. False Suspiciousness
  11. Humiliation
  12. Intentional Embarrassment
  13. Intentionally Injurious
  14. Intentionally Irritating
  15. Intentionally Painful
  16. Intentionally Victimizing
  17. Meanness
  18. Negative Surprise
  19. Overbearing
  20. Overzealousness
  21. Punishing
  22. Ridicule
  23. Sarcasm
  24. Tone Deafness
  25. Unfounded Accusations
  26. Vengeance
  27. Victimization
  28. Vilification

Your second response:

  • If the perpetrator is someone you know, find someone else to know.
  • If the source is from someone you buy something from, find another source.
  • If it’s from someone in public life, disavow and shout them out.
  • If it comes from your local pulpit, find another pulpit.
  • Spend your energy on building a better life, expectations, and circumstances for yourself and those you care about.
  • Stop trying to change or reform the perpetrators and predators. They are always toxic and worthless.
  • Perpetrators, predators, evil public figures, and leaders will never really change.
  • Your efforts are far better spent on new endeavors and new approaches where you can clearly make a difference and others will benefit more than you.
  • Predators and perpetrators are superb slimy liars and con artists.

Wednesday’s Smart Shibboleth #15: Insidious Unethical Behaviors

WARNING, The DOJ calls these “predicate behaviors.” Less apparent, more insidious kinds of unethical behaviors that lead to crime. These behaviors are patterns prosecutors look for. Find even one of these behaviors in your vicinity, trouble is ahead. Two, get an attorney. Act promptly to eradicate (and report?) these situations.

  • Lax control: Careless enforcement, education about, and monitoring of ethical standards.
  • Lack of tough, appropriate, centralized compliance.
  • No one assigned responsibility for teaching, enforcing, and disciplining breaches of ethics.
  • Leadership that allows supervisors to overlook bad behavior.
  • Leadership that allows employees to explore methods and tactics outside established guidelines.
  • Emphasis on “doing whatever it takes” to achieve appropriate business and financial goals.
  • Managers and supervisors who minimize the importance of oversight and compliance.
  • Structuring incentives that compromise ethical behavior, the quality of products and services delivered, and shortcuts for questionable reasons.
  • Failure to confront managers who chronically misbehave or chronically overlook misbehavior.
  • Operating “on the edge,” always pushing for more than is appropriate.
  • Ignoring the signs of or failing to question rogue behavior.
  • Management tolerateing inappropriate behavior by individuals who are “critical to the organization’s mission.” Folks like super salespeople, the high achievers who are allowed to break the rules to maintain the altitude of their performance.
  • Belittling or humiliating those who suggest or seek ethical standards.
  • Dismissing or destroying the careers of employees who report bad or outright wrong behavior.
  • Demeaning the internal or external credibility of whistleblowers, those who report lapses in ethics.

*Source The Federal Sentencing Guidelines of 1991