You’re the mayor of a city that has just gone on “lock down” due to an outbreak of the coronavirus.
You’re the CEO of a company that has just experienced a huge data breach.
You’re the EVP that has to talk to the Board of Directors due to a sudden death of the CEO.
How do you, the leader, communicate to your rattled listeners during these difficult times?
We suggest these three tactics that must be communicated simultaneously.
Empathy. The capacity to place oneself in another’s position. In times of crisis, sharing facts is vital. (See tactic #2.) But, without empathy, your message will be diluted. Through your words you must convey that you, the leader, understand the pressure, loss, confusion, fear and anxiety that might be rampant among your audience.
Transparency. Tell the facts. Listen to the facts. Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability. What does transparency look like? You explain your decisions, you make yourself available, and you respond positively to honesty.
Immediacy. As defined – “Direct pertinence or relevance to the present time, place, or purpose.” In times of crisis, timing matters. Tell what you know and what you don’t know – as it occurs. Example: during the diagnostic phase of my breast cancer journey (I’m fine now!) we found it crucial to know – in a timely manner – test results, treatment options, and probable outcomes.
Whether it is a global health crisis or a company crisis, it’s not easy to share any of these truths during tough times. But that’s why you’re the leader. Use all three tactics simultaneously.
© 2020 Karen Cortell Reisman, All rights reserved
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Karen Cortell Reisman, MS, Executive Communication Author & Speaker