It matters how you communicate during a crisis

It matters how you communicate during a crisis.

It matters how you communicate in a crisis. Communication is always important. In times of crisis we all need to pay special attention to our communications. As we navigate our way through the Covid 19 crisis, it’s essential that we examine our communications carefully. Our communications need to adapt to our new reality. It certainly feels like the world is temporarily closed! We’re all facing unprecedented levels of change, uncertainty and stress. Life as we knew it is on pause, for an unspecified period of time. Our ‘new normal’ feels strange, challenging and at times confusing.

As I sit at home, isolated from everyone except my husband, I’ve found my need to communicate changing. Now that I’m spending less time rushing around, I’m more conscious of how I communicate. I’ve also had more time to digest all the communications coming my way. Many of them are solely information based. Others are focused around requirements that have to be met. I’ve been delighted to see many positive communications that add value to me at this time.

In my book,  Speak Connect Succeed – Build Your Reputation As You Speak, one of my chapters dealt with communication during a conflict. If I could add another chapter, it would focus on how to communicate during a crisis. When everyone is stressed and uncertain, your communication needs to cater for that. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary communications. From my observations, here are my three essentials that you need to include in all your conversations and communications during this crisis. It matters how you communicate during a crisis.

It is more important than ever to ask how someone is doing.

Start your conversation by asking after someone’s well-being. Don’t assume that you know what they are going through. Simply ask, and then listen attentively. Individuals, businesses and families have all experienced various levels of loss at this time. Your communication has to demonstrate that you care. Personal well-being is at stake here. Financial futures are at risk. Your communication has to show your empathy and understanding. I often start a conversation by asking: ‘How’s life in lockdown treating you?’ Another way to do this is to say ‘I imagine your business must be facing huge challenges. How are you coping?’ Connect and engage by giving someone the opportunity to share the impact of the crisis. Skipping this part of the conversation demonstrates your self-interest and lack of understanding and caring.

It’s not ‘Business as Usual”

While the world is temporarily closed, the rules, norms and expectations that we used to use no longer apply. This is the equivalent of a seismic shift in our daily reality. More than that, our expectations of our options and our futures have also shifted. Predictability and certainty have evaporated around us. It stands to reason that our conversations and communications need to reflect these changes. I’m not talking about a simple communication to state your business operations during lockdown. I’m referring to the way you communicate with your clients, staff and friends.

As a business, you need to consider how you can demonstrate and communicate your caring and concern. What can you ‘give’ your clients? How can you make things a bit easier for them? Speaking personally, I appreciate any concessions my service providers can make at this time. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture – simply making it easier for me to resolve a question will work. Suspending the date for my next payment for three weeks will work. These gestures demonstrate a collective understanding of the extraordinary pressures and challenges we’re facing.

As an individual I can demonstrate my caring by proactively reaching out to a friend or a colleague I haven’t spoken to for a while. While the option to get together personally doesn’t exist, we can do so virtually. Sharing humorous messages is another way to stay connected. A simple ‘Are you OK?’ goes a long way to connecting at a time when people need it the most. We need more caring communication and conversation than ever to get through this time. This is a time to give of yourself. You have the opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues in a meaningful way.

Come up with innovative ways to ‘give’

If ever there was a time to send out personalised communications and to ‘give’, this is it. I was recently challenged to come up with creative ways to ‘give’ to our clients. How can we demonstrate support and understanding at this time? What could we do differently? This might be a case of simplifying procedures, of extending some concessions, or making something available for free. What do you have that you can give? In times of crisis, people remember those that supported them. This is a time to stand out from the crowd.

Take a moment to have a look at your communications. It matters how you communicate during a crisis. By following these three ideas, you will be able to communicate in a positive way to those that matter most. If you want to discuss this with me, please contact me here

Stay safe, stay home, stay healthy.