The Bugwood Network

Communications Presentation

Know your facts.

Double and Triple Check Them.

"The sky is falling!! The sky is falling!!"

The sky probably isn't falling!!

Labels contain much of the information needed to begin to understand the products being used.

Much more on labels during this training.

Labeling includes MSDSs & other technical data sheets.

Very useful in understanding the products and their potential behavior.

Lots and lots of other supporting material


Much of it on your District’s bookshelves.

Always check your assumptions!!

Always remember


I generally make an



U and ME

"Safe" vs. "Low Risk"

"Safe" vs. "Low Risk"

Many people question the safety of foraged items.

How can you tell them anything about these items?

Three primary ways –

Know what you are using. Maintain a current chemical inventory.

Maintain records of what you are doing and know whats going on in your pesticide program, and

Carefully maintain official project records on FS.2100-1 as required by the FSH. Carefully kept records allow you to honestly answer questions without relying on, sometimes selective memory.

Carefully kept records allow you to honestly answer
questions without relying on, sometimes selective, memory.

True Story Time

The Forest Service was accused of "POISONING" a farmer’s tomato crop.

We had treated in the area.

Project 2100-1, however, showed a slight wind away from the tomatoes and a relatively cool day (Mid ’70s).

The site the F.S. had treated was downhill from the farm, so there was no chance for subsurface flow or runoff.

On further questioning it was learned that the farmer’s son had recently edged the driveway – using a highly volatile herbicide.

The point: good records forced both the F.S. and the farmer to look beyond the obvious.

Be sure to have the proper tools for the job at hand
Tree removal - the hard way.

Appropriate Tools of Communication

Accurate information


Appropriate language

Be sure to bring the whole tool.

Or at least enough of it to make it effective.

Be sure that you know how to use the tools you have.

Remember that tools (and words) often have more than one use.

Other Uses

Try to avoid mis-communicating.

Figure out what words or gestures may cause miscommunication.

Preplan to avoid communication problems.

Let communication find its own working level.


Be sure you are talking the appropriate language.

Avoid Jargon !!


Sometimes it is clear.


Often it is very misleading.


But sometimes it gives unexpected precision.

Language Alert

Be careful of language vs meaning trainwrecks.
Watch out for the times when the obvious isn’t correct.

We all know that billions are bigger than millions -- BUT
One part per billion is smaller than one part per million (1,000 times smaller)
And, one billionth is smaller than one millionth.

Avoid “Factor Loaded” words, if at all possible.

“POISON” has a very specific meaning when applied to pesticides (LD50 <50 mg/kg).


Is a regulatory word with a specific toxicological meaning.

Virtually none of the pesticides currently in use in R-8 fit the definition.

The word itself is misleading and inflammatory when used inappropriately.

Current signs have eliminated the word “POISON” and are still 100% accurate.

The pesticide ‘Umbrella’

The use of ‘BIODEGRADABLE’ here better communicates our message than did our previous sign which didn’t include the word.

Often there is more than one accurate description of an action.

Miscommunication Source

Requiring our interpretation of an action.
Failure to recognize a differing interpretation of that action.

Where can we effectively communicate with the public?.

Where and Who

Often the most effective places for communication are the places where you normally meet people - the country store, the grocery, your church, ... this means that technicians and temporaries are often doing the talking – keep them up to speed on projects.

Bomb squad - (im)practical joker

Timing and circumstances are critical to the outcome.

Timing can be positive, negative or even neutral.

Having reasonable control of the site can have a positive effect on the outcome.

Always try to know your audience.

Avoid stupid mistakes whenever possible.

Check and recheck your assumptions.

As a F.S. employee you don’t have the “No brains – No service” option.

Don’t prejudice yourself based on labels.

There are almost always surprises.

Many of the people you deal with will be self-taught.


This often means that a formal structure – an overarching order – may be lacking in the comments made.

Be extremely careful not to mistake this for a lack of knowledge.

Good communication requires that sufficient accurate information be given.

Accurate and Sufficient

Most recognize the need for accurate information but there must also be enough information given. In the previous slide "experimenting" simply is not enough information.

Be honest about negative information.
Attempting to conceal it builds problems for later.

Be sure that you are selling the right product.

Remember that many things which are good for us are unappealing.

Don’t promulgate or patronize.

Don’t promise things that you can’t deliver.

You generally won’t be allowed to have it more than one way.

Always remember – appearance affects credibility.

Actions, also, clearly affect your credibility.

Have a feedback loop to insure that an accurate message is received.

Feedback - again

Nonverbal clues are important – but use them cautiously.

There is only one stupid question
The one you don’t ask!

As in many other things
Perspective is everything.

To reemphasize the previous slide
Perspective is everything in communication.

Different people, different dreams.

Realize that some deliberate self-delusion exists in the real world.

Deliberate misuse of words (or pumpkins) can yield humor.

Word Misuse

But, be cautious of the use of humor in a serious context – it can create problems including miscommunication, confusion as to meaning, and confusion as to seriousness of the subject matter.

Always check the source of the information – there may be a hidden (or not so hidden) agenda at work.

To reemphasize - remember that information received may be the result of a deliberate agenda.

There is no protection from a deliberate disinformation campaign

Combating Disinformation

The only hope is a history of prior honesty and credibility. And even that is not enough if someone is seriously trying to poison communications.

Plan for and try to avoid predictable potential negative consequences.

Think before acting
When attempting to communicate – think before speaking.

Try to think things all of the way through before starting.

Be careful of new and glitzy tools.
They may work too well and have unexpected consequences.

What You Are Up Against – (A graphic example)

Where you want to be.

Where you find yourself when discussing pesticides in public.

This Often Leads To:

  • Missed communication
  • Frustration for the audience
  • Confrontation over ideas
  • Bad feelings and a failed meeting

What To Do:

  • Be prepared; know your material
  • Listen carefully
  • Keep your cool
  • Keep the level of discussion appropriate to the audience
  • and, everything else we have said in this talk
  • But, most of all, USE COMMON SENSE!

Some meetings simply go bad and you feel like you are the sacrifice!

At times it appears to be hopeless.
Continue trying for a Win-Win resolution (not this Lose-Lose scenario).

Sometimes “sorry” just isn’t good enough.

Most important
Eventually you are bound to get it right!!

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The University of Georgia - Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Dept. of Entomology
Last updated on Thursday, November 07, 2002 at 01:10 PM
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