Effective communication requires intent, clarity, self-awareness and other-awareness on a Regular-Old-Day. But communicating through a crisis is a whole other animal! As we live through this pandemic, my attention turns toward our leaders – our business leaders, our community leaders, our government leaders, our faith leaders. How are they effectively communicating through a crisis? Here are three critical tips!

#1 – Communicate what you know and what you don’t know.

If you feel you don’t have all of the answers, then congratulations! You are probably being honest with yourself! And it is okay not to have all of the answers, especially in a fluid and uncertain situation. That said, communicate what you know as well as what you don’t know. Then share the steps you are taking to get the information you are missing. We build trust through honesty and transparency, especially when communicating through a crisis.

#2 – Communicate regularly and more often than you think is necessary.

People balk at the term “overcommunication”. I do too on a Regular-Old-Day. But when communicating through a crisis, effective leaders find a new rhythm for communication and provide streams of information to their teams. Information can help reduce stress and fear.

  • Create a Communication Plan to document who needs to know what, when, and how, and how often, and who has the lead. (My Communications colleagues are cheering right now!)
  • Daily leadership calls or virtual meetings can be used to check in, discuss any new developments and priorities, and any changes needed.
  • End-of-day wrap-up meetings can be used to touch base on near-term actions and to celebrate progress.
  • Set up Level 10 Meetings.
  • Increase your one-on-one calls with team members or colleagues. This can be an important way to stay connected with others when folks are working from home.
  • Embrace the technology and grow your “virtual communication” muscles!

#3 – Communicate through questions and active listening.

When communicating through a crisis, it is just as important to ask questions and listen as it is to share the news, plans and progress. What questions or concerns do others have? What ideas do others have? What is the plan missing? Listen to understand instead of listening just to respond.

BONUS TIP #4 – Communicate with empathy.

We have all experienced fear and anxiety. People are afraid and anxious today. Tap into your humanity when you communicate. Many going into workplaces are worried someone else will come into work and unknowingly spread the virus. Many working from home feel lonely, disconnected or cabin-feverish. Listen to their concerns. Acknowledge their feelings. Go out of your way to way to express your appreciation to your team members and remind them that what they do matters.

Stay safe and healthy, Friends!