May 2020 Edition Introduction As we pass the Memorial Day mark in the year 2020, America appears to be coming apart. In just the last seven weeks we

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May 2020 Edition


As we pass the Memorial Day mark in the year 2020, America appears to be coming apart. In just the last seven weeks we will have suffered more than 100,000 deaths to the Coronavirus. More deaths have occurred than in all wars since World War II. The number continues to climb. Instead of 100,000 funerals, all of this has happened so rapidly, we’re all so dispersed in lockdown that family members are having to bear their grief alone.

In past times, when serious problems somewhat like these have arisen, serious leadership emerged to help guide the nation, lead the nation, help resolve major questions and provide humane and purposeful bridging to the future. We have nothing of the kind on the horizon. In fact, we have no horizon at the moment. We’ve become a nation on a pathway to disintegration.

The states are being recreated as competitive, independent, country-like entities fighting each other for resources; a fight that is encouraged by the national administration. Our traditional spirit of mutual cooperation, civility, and decency has been set aside, and replaced by the antics of the unconscionable. We seem to be losing our conscience as a country because no one is standing up to unconscionable behavior.



This month’s issue is devoted to what I think is the way out of this mess and a way back to the path we have always managed to regain as a country and a culture, a path of decency, honor, helpfulness, courage, and integrity.

In the present environment, in the absence of shining, inspirational leadership, each of us individually will have to undertake this process of recovering what America stands for. The process begins with identifying the nature of the infection in our culture; identifying it, describing it, then systematically detoxifying these elements from our culture. We’re going to have to hope that cultural heroes can emerge and begin to recover what we have worked so hard for and what so many have given their lives for and begin dumping the ingredients, actors, and unconscionable behaviors from our lives.

The way each of us will accomplish it is hard but sensible and doable. Only you acting individually and finding others of like-mindset can bring back America’s conscience and sense of honor and country: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


Decency Has Enemies

American culture today seems to have little room for civility, decency, even integrity. Our culture, including the media, has become addicted (to use Ted Koppel’s description) to watching, reading, searching for and apparently internalizing a lot of intentionally bad, harmful, misleading, fake, fabricated, and simply useless, repetitive information. All the while, decency’s enemies are winning.

The Pathology of Misbehavior

Over the years, my career has involved working with many businesses, business organizations, and their leaders where misbehavior has or is taking place, I have spent a lot of time carefully observing and analyzing where these behaviors come from and what they are specifically. I think of myself as a “pathologist of management and leadership misbehavior”. Fred Garcia, New York, coined the phrase “management anthropology” to describe many of his activities. Mine also fall into that category, constantly searching to understand why managers and leaders veer away from civility and decency. I’ve learned many important lessons:

1. All management and leadership misbehavior and mischief is intentional. The decision to act unconscionably is always intentional and premeditated.
2. Likewise, All ethical, honorable, and decent behavior is always intentional.
3. Predators and perpetrators know what they are doing, whether it is stock fraud, Ponzi schemes, tax evasion, sexual harassment, and all criminal behavior, etc.
4. Our culture allows an extraordinary amount of fog, clutter, intentional misdirection, disconnection and tiny crippling technicalities; generally in the name of protecting the innocent. The real effect is permitting the failure to detect, deter, pursue, and prosecute plainly improper behaviors, decisions, and intentions.
5. The goal of misbehavior pathology is to reduce the self-forgiving, false complexity and intentional obfuscation, as well as the excuses that are used to allow and sometimes authorize unethical, unconscionable behavior.
6. We need to focus more energy demonstrating why ethical, decent, civil places to work are more desirable, safer, productive, and profitable.
7. I prefer the simple, sensible, constructive, and clear definition of ethics by American philosopher Will Durant: the search for ideal behavior.


The Decency Enemy’s Toolkit

Unconscionable actions, decisions and behaviors are intentional, premeditated, injurious, degrading,…and unethical

The decency enemy's toolkit is obvious, expansive, and culturally corrosive. This is also the toolkit of bullies, behavioral buggers, and bad people. Each of these tools is used intentionally to hurt, harm, and harass. You will recognize all of these:

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

The first response to these events: stop them, stop accepting them, publicly disavow them and their sources.

The 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 them as vocally as you can.
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, rather than trying to change or reform the perpetrators and predators.
Perpetrators, predators, public figures, and leaders 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 con-artists. Call them out, root them out.


What Does Civility Look Like, Sound Like, Feel Like!?

The true test of civility is an intention and commitment to verbal, written communication and actions that are positive and declarative and behaviors that are simple, sensitive, sensible, constructive, positive, helpful, empathetic and benefit the recipient out of proportion positively to the sender. Any other pathways forward can lead only to trouble, prolong problems and delay mitigation and resolution. Empathy which is so often and mistakenly interpreted to mean," putting yourself in someone else's shoes," which is impossible and often insulting or revictimizing, means positive deeds that speak for themselves louder and more constructively than words can.


Jim's Upcoming Appearances & Virtual Events

Jim Virtual Events

June 9th, 7:00pm CDT: Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence Webinar: Crisis Proofing Your Organization
June 24th, 1:00pm CDT: PRSA Greater Salt Lake City Webinar: Ethical and Unethical Crisis Management
June 25th, 11:00am CDT: PRSA Oregon Webinar
June 26th, 12:00pm CDT: PRSA PAG Virtual Summit Keynote Speaker
July 16th, 11:00am CDT: IABC Circle of Fellows Podcast Episode #59 – Entrepreneurship and How to Be a Successful Consultant
September 9th, 8:00am CDT: PRSA Sexual Harassment Webinar
September 15th, 12:00pm CDT: IIA Webinar – The Decency Code
October 15th, 11:00am CDT: IABC Circle of Fellows Podcast
December 8th, 1:00pm CDT: IIA Webinar – Crisis Proofing Your Organization


People Are Talking About The Decency Code

If there was a time when we need a model of decency, it is now.


Jim Lukaszewski is one of the nation’s and world’s most acclaimed crisis management and crisis communication consultants and business leadership advisors. I know him also to be a man of uncommon decency who transmits decency to those he counsels.

If ever there was a time when we needed a model of decency, it is now.

The Decency Code is a much-needed antidote to the prevailing incivility we see in both the workplace and the nation. Harrison and Lukaszewski plot a practical approach to regain civility, integrity, and empathy in our relations with others. This is a must-read for leaders, investors, employees, and engaged citizens generally. -Helio Fred Garcia


Workplace Decency -- An Idea Whose Time Has Come


Jim Lukaszewski and Steve Harrison have combined to produce a very timely book. The Decency Code applies to any organization, any size, any type. It's all about raising the level of how we treat each other in the world of work. It addresses a real need.

When you pick this book up, here's what to expect. First, you will see the issue of workplace decency through the eyes of authors who have worked with companies in crisis -- often because those companies have failed to do the right thing. Second, you will find practical, doable suggestions to bring the issue of decency front and center in your workplace. Third, the book features example after example of how different organizations have addressed the issue of decency both in a positive direction as well as those that have chosen to go down a different path that often ends up with a combination of reputation and relationship damage.-Davis Young, author of Building Your Company's Good Name and Trust is the Tiebreaker


Special Offer to PRSA and IABC Chapters Across the United States

Jim Lukaszewski is offering.....

Four FREE 60 minute Webinars

Each webinar is sixty minutes, featuring Jim Lukaszewski presenting live. Each program has an interesting slide deck which will be available to participants, as well as a multi-page handout.

You can schedule at your convenience. Contact Jim Lukaszewski at, subject line: Free Webinar Programs.

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