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February 18, 2016

Clark Teuscher

Paul Blascovich

Paul Allen

Lisa Stromeier


Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016

CLARK TEUSCHER: Good afternoon, and welcome to the seventh installment of the 2015 2016 CoSIDA Continuing Education Series Sponsored by Capital One. My name is Clark Teuscher. I'm the sports information director at North Central College and a co chair for the CoSIDA Continuing Education Committee. I'll be moderating today's call as we examine unusual situations and crisis communication issues faced by athletic communicators.

Presenting on today's call are Paul Blascovich, assistant director of athletics for communications and compliance at Sarah Lawrence College; Paul Allen, the associate athletic director for communications at Minnesota State University, Mankato; and CoSIDA's mental health and wellness consultant, Lisa Stromeier. I'll also be sharing some information from my own experience leading a crisis communication effort later in this call.

A little later this afternoon, we will have full audio of today's call as well as a transcript of the CoverItLive blog and a full FastScript from CoSIDA's official transcript provider, ASAP Sports, available for on demand use at CoSIDA.com. Listeners on today's call can follow along on the CoverItLive blog and ask questions which can be done anonymously. We'll address as many questions which are relevant to today's topics as we can.

Our first presenter today will be Paul Blascovich, who will share from his experiences as part of Sarah Lawrence College's pioneering efforts in accommodating and covering transgender athletes.

PAUL BLASCOVICH: Thanks, Clark, and good morning on the West Coast. Good afternoon, everyone else. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today, and thank you to everyone for participating. I know we have lots of topics to cover, so I'll try to avoid rambling too much here.

I think that discussing transgender student athletes is an important conversation, and it's a conversation that we really need to continue having as SIDs, both today and beyond.

I'm going to give a brief overview of the subject and then discuss some of my own personal experiences and then end with a few practices that I hope you'll incorporate in your own offices.

The first thing I want to say is I've heard from a lot of SIDs that say it'll never happen at my school, and my simple response to that is, "You don't know that." The best estimate right now is that about 700,000 adult Americans consider themselves to be transgender. Very roughly that's somewhere between 1 in 300 to 1 in 500, so I assure you that you have transgender students on your campus, and if you've been in the industry a while, you've probably worked with transgender student athletes, whether you were aware of it or not.

So just keep that in mind, that if it's not applying to you today, it will apply to you very soon in the future.

Very briefly, what does transgender mean? It's an umbrella term. It's an adjective that describes anyone whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. I think it's very easy for us all to automatically place people in the category of either male or female, and the reality is that gender is very different. It can be fluid. Someone's gender identity, the way they perceive themselves, or their gender expression, the way that others perceive them, can be very different from anatomy or the gender that they were assigned at birth.

As an example, Facebook now offers more than 50 gender settings beyond just male and female because it can be a complicated thing and it can be a challenge for those who may not necessarily fit neatly into either male or female.

Touching on the NCAA policy, fundamentally anyone can compete on a men's team. That's really plain and simple.

Now, a student who is transgender who has made the decision to undergo medical treatment and testosterone, testosterone is treated as a performance enhancing drug, and to that end, it would require a medical exception from the NCAA. For a transgender female who wants to compete on a women's team, that student must undergo one calendar year of testosterone suppressant before being eligible for women's competition.

But at the end of the day, the NCAA's stance is that there is a place for every student athlete who wants to compete in college sports regardless of their gender.

Now, touching on my own experiences with transgender student athletes, I've worked with to my knowledge at last five. The one experience I want to share today is that of Jay, one of our swimmers. Now, when Jay was an undergraduate we did not publicize his situation for his privacy and just his comfort as a student athlete. However, since graduation, Jay has actually been very open about his experience and has been doing interviews with several media outlets, including with NPR, so that's why I feel comfortable discussing it in detail today.

Now, Jay was a member of our women's swimming team when he came to Sarah Lawrence, but from day one he identified himself as he, and both his teammates and his coaches respected that immediately.

He competed on our women's team for three seasons, and prior to his senior year, he inquired about beginning testosterone, or as he called it, T, supplements. From the moment that he expressed interest in beginning T, we took several actions. First, we gave him the option to choose whichever locker room he wanted to change in. We felt like the decision of changing room was something that wouldn't affect us personally, it wouldn't affect our team, and we wanted to ensure his comfort. Second, the choice on whether he wanted to compete on the men's or women's team was strictly his own. However, we explained that if he were to begin T supplements, that would restrict him to just the men's team.

And in the case of swimming, we were presented with another interesting situation, which was that under the current swimming playing rules, wearing a women's swimsuit in a men's competition would have been deemed illegal. So we immediately began the process of securing a playing rules waiver, regardless of which team he decided to compete on eventually, and in that way that waiver was nice and taken care of before he even made that decision.

In the long run, he did decide to start T, and he did participate on our men's team in his senior year. One of the things that we did do is we informed the officials and our opponents, opposing teams and fans, just to make sure that they were aware of the situation and not caught off guard.

But in the end, Jay has reflected on his experience as vastly positive. He reported he didn't receive any unwanted attention, and again, our communication with opposing teams has made it very easy for him to show up at a pool, compete, and experience the meet the same as any other student athlete.

Now, I will say that there were some things that we could have done better, and the first is the NCAA waiver. A lot of the language for the medical exception qualified his situation as if he had a disability, and there's a situation in which examining the language that we're using can make that student athlete more comfortable, and we feel like the language there was not very sensitive to that situation.

And from my own personal experience, the thing that I wish I would have done sooner was to actually have a discussion with Jay before his senior year. I was here, I began during his sophomore year, and I never actually sat down to ask Jay what would make him feel most comfortable, so the first piece of advice I would give to anyone is to make sure that you open the lines of communication and have those discussions and find out what the student athlete actually wants.

To that end, there are a few simple steps I would recommend to all SIDs. We all use biography forms, whether it be online or in paper when a student comes to campus. That way we can build their online profile, and the two things I would say to everyone is first off, make sure you're asking on those forms for students to provide their preferred name. It's a misconception among some that only legal names can be used in NCAA rosters, and that's obviously not true. So asking students directly how do you want your name to be listed on the website can be a very good first step, and in fact, I've worked with transgender student athletes who go by one name among their coaches and among their team, but on the website they use more or less the name that they had before coming to college.

The other thing that I really hope that everyone will start to at least consider, if not implementing, is to begin asking every student about pronoun preferences. In Jay's case, when he started, I said, he preferred to go by he, and his coach approached me and made sure I was doing the same. But I never stopped to ask Jay if he wanted me to use the word "he" on our website. So starting in my second year, I began asking every student on those biography forms to express their gender identifying pronoun preference, and what I found was that in Jay's junior year, he actually asked for neutral reference; in other words, no pronoun preferences on the website, and I realized that it was because Jay didn't want to stand out. He was on a women's team but didn't want to be publicly referred to as "he" on the rosters. Now, by his senior year when he was swimming on the men's team, he did ask for male pronoun preferences and we were able to accommodate that.

And it's something where as SIDs we don't necessarily think about. We don't necessarily think about asking every student athlete whether they prefer to be called he or she, or in the case of neutral, they. We get so stuck on grammar that we feel like we have to always conform to our normal rules. At the end of the day, if you have a transgender student athlete, those are some simple things you can do.

And finally, too, just to touch on a few other things, take a look at your uniform policies, your dress codes, maybe your locker room policy, and start to think about removing any kind of unnecessary male or female divisions. Now, obviously you'll always have a men's soccer team and a women's soccer team, but think about any ways that you can start taking out those gender references. If you're using biographies that talk about someone being the son or the daughter of someone's parents, maybe just consider saying that their parents are this rather than saying that. If someone has brothers and sisters, listing them as siblings instead.

There's simple ways that you can make every student athlete feel comfortable, regardless of their specific situation.

That said, I feel like I've been going on for quite a while. Do we have any questions?

CLARK TEUSCHER: Not at this time. We may circle back with you if they do come through on the blog.

PAUL BLASCOVICH: At this point I feel like I should kind of yield the floor here, but certainly if anyone is listening and has specific questions they don't want to present in this forum, you can always feel free to reach out via phone or email, and I'm more than happy to discuss a specific situation.

CLARK TEUSCHER: Thank you very much, Paul. Our second presenter, Paul Allen, is here to give his perspective on media attention of a different kind which involved the controversy surrounding Mankato's football program that arose in 2012. Paul?

PAUL ALLEN: Thanks, Clark, and thanks, Paul, for that presentation, and good afternoon, everybody. I think one thing I've learned right off the top that I can tell you is if you've been at a plate long enough not unlike what Paul alluded to, you're bound to run into a lot of different situations, and I think one of the unique things about our situation with our football program was the length of what I would characterize of the crisis that we faced. It began in 2012 right before the start of our football season; our football coach was charged with child pornography after some phones of naked children were found on a cell phone, university issued cell phone, and as it turns out, of course they were photos of his own children. Our coach was put on administrative leave, and over the next two years we had an interim head coach.

Interestingly, I guess, in some respects, our team had this unbelievable run of success during those two years going 24 2. A few months after the charges were initially laid against our coach, they were dropped, but he had been put on administrative leave, which he had appealed, and in our situation here in Minnesota, our football coaches within the state, our union positions, he belonged to the IFO, Interfaculty Organization, and they appealed the fact that he had been reassigned.

In the meantime, we continued on under our interim coach, and in 2014 still under the situation, our head coach took a job at another school. At that point I think a lot of us figured we were out from under some of the circumstances which we had faced over the course of the previous two years, but because of the appeal through the union, it wasn't really over, and in April, right before the start of spring football, the state arbitrator ruled that our coach had been wrongfully dismissed, and a day later he announced he'd be coming back. He was going to take his job back, which I think was a surprise to a lot of people, including myself. I just didn't really see it coming.

Of course during this time, the entire time, because of the nature of the charges and how things were going on that we were dealing with media, and not just the media that we typically were dealing with, we were dealing with media outside of the region, and they weren't sports media typically. In Mankato we're a town of about 60,000 or 70,000 people with a daily newspaper, a CBS affiliate television station, and several radio stations. We're also within an hour and a half of the Twin Cities.

So that's basically the footprint of our local media. Because of the nature of this particular situation, I had to deal with national media. You can imagine how that went. We dealt with everybody, including USA Today, Sports Illustrated, New York Times, all the wire services, ESPN, and so a really interesting situation to try to deal with during that time.

So the kicker was, of course, with the situation with the coach coming back right before spring ball, he made a decision to come back, and the decision between the time that he announced he was coming back to MSU and the time spring ball started was a day, basically, and I'm not again, looking back on how things went, if I had a do over, I would want to go back and take some time in between his announcement that he was coming back and the time in which we started spring ball. We just didn't have enough time to communicate with all the parties that needed to be communicated with, including our student athletes.

On the first day of spring ball with Coach Hoffner only back here a day, the student athletes walked out. They made an announcement, and there was a lot of media there uncharacteristically. We don't normally get that number of media at our first day of spring ball. Out of the blue, the players announced they're not going to play for the coach. They wanted to play for the interim coach, and they refused to practice.

So we took a day to regroup, to communicate properly, and we had a press conference the next day, and the student athletes began practice the next day. Under that coach, we've continued to enjoy success and advanced in his first year back all the way to the National Championship game, ranked No. 1. We were 14 0 before losing in the National Championship game. Just a totally crazy situation all the way through.

We're now back under our second year under the coach, went 10 2 this year and had another good year.

So you can imagine what it was like. We're a Division II school with Division I hockey, and we're not in a large metropolitan area, but we were dealing with this all along, and I think the length of the ordeal was one of those things which you really don't anticipate, complicated by the fact that it's a state university system. We're not a private school, so when you're dealing with these type of crisis management situations, and again, depending on what they are, and this obviously was a pretty big one, given the fact we were dealing with national media, you had state university system folks of involved, including lawyers and media relations people.

So what I learned: What I learned during this time, and I think one of the things I can point to was these types of things we're having right now. CoSIDA provides a tremendous network of outreach. All along, I think in my time, I attended the CoSIDA workshop, and I've been doing this a long time, and learned as I went from a lot of the veterans, and some of the things which people always talk about in dealing with crisis management, I think we were prepared initially, although you can never anticipate what the crisis may be. You have to have the crisis management team in place. You have to do triage, what exactly do you have, and then who needs to be involved and who needs to communicate. Those are things that we fell back on immediately when this first broke.

One of the key things I think for us was the communication factor between the parties involved on campus, and we talked daily about things that we heard, rumors or whatever, it was really important to communicate as a group.

So using that as a guideline, I think we were able to game plan a response. Of course, in this situation it was an HR issue, and so there was only so much we could really communicate. So over the course of the two years, the life of the situation, you learn to take your hits in some respects. There's times where you just cannot respond to things because you really can't deal with questions based on data privacy, unfortunately in some respects because you feel a lot of times that you're under fire.

So I think in some respects, and in our situation, based on what we could and could not do, we did the best job possible. Relative to the situation where the players walked out that was one thing we did not see coming, and I think that was where there was a breakdown in communication between the administration and the coach that was coming back and the student athletes. I think if we had time to really go back and take a look at how we could have handled that differently, that's what we probably could have done. We could have taken a little more time to communicate with everybody, even the student athletes, and maybe could have averted that situation.

One of the, again, adages that you work with in dealing with these type situations is the vacuum that you deal with sometimes if you don't provide information, and that happened a little bit when the student athletes announced that they weren't going to practice. I was adamant that we had to have a press conference as soon as possible in order to give the media some information. If we didn't, then the media was sure to find a way to fill it on their own, and I thought that by controlling the one thing we could do was helping to control the situation was to have a press conference, and so once we determined that the student athletes were going to go back to practice, then we had a press conference immediately following that, and that was one of the things that I think stopped the vacuum from being filled. We made everybody accessible, the coach, the interim coach, our athletic director, and the student athletes. We did a press conference and one on ones, and after that once the media got what they wanted, the people who didn't particularly cover us in particular, they left, and we were able to sort of go on with our lives.

With this type of thing, I'm not sure people have asked me, have we moved past it, and I just don't think that this is something you can move past quickly, given the nature of what transpired. I think that although the it's been two years basically since the situation occurred, we still get asked about it occasionally.

The saving grace is that our program has had this unbelievable success, both under the interim coach and under our current head coach. One wonders what it would have been like if the program had fallen apart.

I give the student athletes a lot of credit. We didn't necessarily hide the student athletes from the media. We did give them guidance on what to say. We did limit the questions because of HR, the HR situation. We did try to keep the questions limited to football related questions only, and we listened to what the student athletes had to say when it was going on, when we started with spring ball in one instance. Those are things you learn during the time. Be prepared to face these types of situations, do your triage, don't hide, provide information, and try to make as much information and people available for comment when possible. Those are some of the things we learned.

If there's some questions, I can take some questions relative to our situation here in Mankato.

CLARK TEUSCHER: Thank you very much, Paul. We don't have any questions right now. A reminder to listeners, if you have questions for someone who has already completed their presentation, those folks are still on the line and can answer those questions if you have them throughout today's call.

Here at North Central College, I was also involved in a crisis communication scenario regarding our football program, although it was for an entirely different reason. In the early morning hours of Saturday, February 4, 2012, two members of our football program were stabbed in an altercation in a bar near our campus, and one of them passed away. It so happened that all of the public relations personnel at North Central were out of town for one reason or another. My supervisor, who was also out of town, ironically enough, attending a funeral, he was the one that woke me up with the phone call.

Even though it wasn't part of my protocol that North Central had on file, it fell on me to manage the crisis communication for the entire college. I spent that day coordinating with the police department for a press release, preparing email communication to go out to students and staff, fielding media calls, scheduling interviews, identifying designated areas for news trucks and cameras and whatever else needed done, and then I went and worked a basketball double header on top of it all.

Certainly I had the support of the college's administration in performing all of those duties on behalf of the college, but that was a conversation I had to have a lot with media that were calling in, that I wasn't just there working the phones and there to refer them to someone else. I was actually the one that they were calling to talk to.

This was a case that gained more and more media attention as the word got out, and I was asked to continue helping out throughout the week since I had been the point person in the beginning.

From a communications standpoint, we really had to be careful about who we allowed to speak and what they said, because there was no way to know who was going to get subpoenaed to testify in a criminal trial, and we didn't want anything to come out in a public statement that might compromise that process. There were also some unflattering things that were being said in the court of public opinion in the days following the incident. The following Monday we held a meeting with the football program regarding what was needed from them in terms of restricting their contact with members of the media and limiting their interactions on social media no matter what they thought of what was being said or reported. This was a case where we definitely did restrict access to the players in the name of allowing the justice system to work itself out, and it was really tough to sit there in a room with these guys and do that. They're grieving the loss of a teammate and you're telling them what they can and can't say about it.

But they all in their own time came to understand why we were telling them to do that, and we really didn't have any problems with anybody going off and saying things to the press or anything like that.

Despite the nature of the situation, there was some good that came out of it. This wound up being a case study for our crisis communication task force. They've since amended some of their disaster planning as a result of that. We've also created some new programming to teach incoming athletes about being more aware of how they present themselves and how they can affect people's perceptions of them as well as their school, their teammates, and their families.

This was a situation where I felt prepared because I had been in the room when the college's crisis communications procedures were discussed, but it was still tough because this was not only a horrific thing to have happened, but it also happened to and was witnessed by people I knew. This wasn't a car accident, this wasn't an illness, this was murder, and everything changed because of that.

As it unfolded, it was easy to not have to think about that part of it because everything was happening so fast and there was always something else to focus on. Tired as I was, I was really glad to have those two basketball games at the end of the day because that was my routine. Even though the events of the day contributed to an emotionally charged atmosphere and we were short handed because I had student workers who had witnessed the attack and were too traumatized to come in. I should point out that those students were still responsible enough to email me and let me know.

As the initial rush of it began to wear off, though, I began to feel very, very guilty every time somebody said "thank you" or "good job" in reference to how I handled the situation, because it felt like I was benefiting in some way from someone's death. It felt wrong to be proud of myself for a job well done when it came about under those circumstances. It dominated most of my waking moments for the next several days, and it made me a fairly unpleasant person to be around.

Fortunately, my wife intervened and helped me understand the real reason people were saying thank you was because I was there for them when they needed me, because I was dependable, because I used my talents in a manner that helped people, and it was just a matter of perspective, and once I looked at it that way, I was able to shift my focus to what other good I might be able to do.

Covering sports every day, we're not wired to deal with life and death issues. The few times that I've been in that situation, it's never been easy. But as SIDs, our ability to think on our feet and adjust quickly to changing situations, it can make us indispensable assets to our organizations when a crisis happens. If you haven't had a chance to be at the table in crisis or disaster planning at your institution, it is absolutely worth making the argument to get yourself involved because you can never be too prepared.

As she has for other calls this academic year, Lisa Stromeier has taken questions from the membership on these and other unusual situations. She's here today to help shed some light on how to effectively manage a crisis in the moment and address some of the issues that can come with it. Lisa?

LISA STROMEIER: Thanks, Clark, and I'm so appreciative of the wonderful examples that all three of you gentlemen shared. They go right along with what my thoughts were on how to deal with these crisis situations. First I want to speak to what happens when your own personal feelings get in the way, because with all three examples that you gave, I don't know how you couldn't be triggered by each topic.

So one of the things that you want to do is remember that they are just that: Personal feelings. And you all are professionals. You do a great job of sticking with what you need to do, but it is important then to deal with the personal reactions at a later date, and we're going to talk about that in a minute.

I think it's important to understand what's triggering you. If you're getting a personal reaction, what's the trigger? And in all three cases, whether a lot of us have values that might come into question if we're dealing with child pornography or the transgender issue or violence that results in death, and of course we're all grieving.

So it's a matter of looking at what is your own value that's being triggered. Are you judging in the moment? Or is it something that is being triggered because it's something that happened to you in your past or that of a loved one?

So it's important to step back and take a breath, and I mean literally take a breath, because many of us when we're dealing with an intense emotion, we unconsciously hold our breath. So it's important to literally take a breath. It also gives you a minute just to kind of do a self monitoring.

I also wanted to say that in some of these cases, I'm thinking about the violence and the loss of student athletes, it's okay if they see you get a little I don't want to say tears in your eyes, but sometimes you do get tears in your eyes, or if your voice cracks or if for a brief moment you can't talk. What that does is it humanizes you, and it helps people be able to identify and join with you more.

A few things that you can do is find other platforms to voice your opinion, whether that's a cause that you volunteer for or with your church. You can also compartmentalize, and a lot of us do that on a regular basis, and basically that's putting whatever the thought or feeling is into a box and saying, when I'm not at work, when I'm at home, or this weekend I'll deal with it. Compartmentalizing is a great coping technique as long as you actually do deal with it at some point in the future.

And then I think it's also important just to be aware of the consequences. You may be being triggered. You may have something that you very much want to say on the subject, but is it worth your job. So don't be impulsive.

I was struck by having to interview people that were uncomfortable in the spotlight or didn't want to be in the spotlight, but that is the nature of your jobs. So I want you to first remember that I'm coming from the mental health perspective. I don't have any training in media, what you should or shouldn't be doing. But from the mental health perspective, I would suggest that you treat the person that you're interviewing the way you would want your spouse or your child treated during the interview, and that basically is showing respect. Treat them the way you would want to be treated.

Ahead of time, as a courtesy, let them know the goal of the interview and give them the questions, if possible, ahead of time, so they can be prepared. Nobody likes being caught off guard, and especially if a person is not wanting to be interviewed, the anxiety level can be through the roof. So to give them the questions ahead of time.

Barb, I see that you've got the slide up saying six strategies for difficult interviews. You might want to put up the one on interviewing those that would rather not be in the spotlight because that's where I'm at right now. I'm going to do the six strategies at the end.

Back when you're interviewing someone who is uncomfortable being in the spotlight, I think it's also important to smile and make eye contact with them. That just shows them that you're not being shifty and they can trust what's coming from you. And then finally, don't blindside. Paybacks are hell. So you might get a good story, but is that the kind of relationship that you want to be are building with this person.

So those are my thoughts when you're interviewing people who would rather not be in the spotlight, and I certainly can see how you've done that.

I wanted to talk briefly on how to stop short term stressors from becoming a long term problem, and that's something that with each of the examples that Paul, Paul and Clark gave, it came to mind that, yes, that had these not been dealt with right away and directly, they could have grown into even bigger things. And along with growing into bigger things, I would also stress that if we're not dealing with this stuff, short term stress that you're experiencing as you're covering the story, if you're not dealing with that stress as it's happening or as soon as possible, that that then gets turned into energy into our bodies, and if we don't deal with it, eventually we're going to get sick. Our immune system becomes weakened. I think you all know people that have gotten ulcers. Hopefully you're not one of them, but people that have gotten ulcers as a result of just pushing the stress down and down and sometimes not being able to sleep.

So I've put up a list of things that you can actually do just to immediately deal with the stress that your body might be feeling. Physical activity, remember when you're doing any type of cardio activity, serotonin and dopamine are being released in your system, so you're actually getting a nice feel good piece being dumped into your system.

It's important to talk with a trusted confidant, and I so strongly that you use your CoSIDA colleagues in that way. Your spouses can understand in one way, but only another person that has walked in the shoes of an SID, who gets the I'm going to say absurdity of some of the situations that you all have had to deal with, how quickly you have to think on your feet, how careful you have to be with the wording that you use. Only another colleague can fully understand it. So that's one of the beautiful things about being a member of CoSIDA.

Writing out the situation: We know that if you hand write out what your thoughts are, what your feelings are on a stressful situation rather than typing it, you're going to get more of an emotional release. They've done studies that show that it makes a huge difference. But then make sure you destroy that. It's not something you want anyone to find, so put it through a paper shredder.

It's good to ask yourself the question, will this matter a month from now or a year from now. Sure, it matters right at that moment, but if you're thinking about, oh, I wished I would have asked, or oh, I wished I would have said, that moment has passed. It's not going to it's very, very likely it's not going to matter a month from now or a year from now.

I'm always going to do a plug for an employee assistance program, and I'm thinking most of you probably do have an EAP program within your schools. Remember that that's there to help you. It's 100 percent confidential. HIPAA regulations are there so that you can be assured of 100 percent confidentiality. That's using a therapist within the program.

And if anyone has any questions about how to use that, do feel free to email me at asklisa@LisaStromeier.com. I'd be happy to share how you can utilize that program.

The last thing I have lasted is The Four Agreements. The Four Agreements is actually a book that a lot of people have been reading, and I've found it to be very helpful in my personal life as well as professionally. There's a slide that has the actual four agreements on it. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it because of how quickly the time is going, but it is a resource that I would encourage you to take a look at.

Finally, the slide that we were looking at earlier, the six strategies for difficult interviews. First and foremost, and this is what I heard all three of the gentlemen before me talk about, use the communication, brush up on your listening skills. Too often we're preparing our own responses rather than truly listening to what the person is saying. So what are they really saying? Ask for clarification if necessary.

I think it's important to show respect, and Paul did such a great job with Jay on asking about his preferences. Show compassion and empathy. If you're asking the person that you're interviewing to be vulnerable, then you need to demonstrate a bit of your own vulnerability maybe during the pre interview.

We already talked about being self aware, understanding how your values could be triggering you. I won't spend any more time on that.

But I also believe it's okay to show emotion. I talked a little bit about that earlier, as well. Obviously you can't be bursting into tears during an interview, but it's okay if they hear your voice crack.

Another one is that people have good BS monitors, so it's okay to say I don't know, and as you all are very aware of, the internet equals instant fact checking.

Finally, I just want to say a little bit about finding a balance of information. You know, we talk about less is more, but you want to make sure that you're acknowledging just the facts, not speculation, and I think Paul at Mankato did a really great job with regards to that. You know, it is a litigious society, so we have to keep in mind the difference between public and private information.

But then when there's too little fear or too little information, it can create a little bit of room for fear. People fill in the blanks with their worst fears because it gives them the illusion of control so that they won't get blindsided. That's what they do when they don't have enough information. So with your job, it's getting the facts to fill in the blanks and finding that balance between not enough information and too much information, and from what I've been learning about you SIDs, you do a masterful job with regards to that.

So those are just briefly some of my ideas on the topic for today. I welcome any other questions about these topics sent to asklisa@LisaStromeier.com.

CLARK TEUSCHER: Thanks very much, Lisa. We'd like to thank each of our presenters today for offering their time and expertise to help our membership. As Lisa said, CoSIDA members are welcome to submit their questions at any time via email and all questions will remain confidential. We continue to appreciate Capital One's sponsorship of this year's continuing education series. The CoverItLive blog, audio and ASAP Sports' FastScript from today's call will be available for on demand use at CoSIDA.com later today. Our next call will be on Thursday, March 31st, when we will be joined by members of the job seekers' committee in a discussion about career advancement. Thanks to everyone for participating. Have a great day.

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