3 Simple ways to get your communication right in uncertain times

‘I’m an introvert’ Steve said, ‘and I’m loving working from home’. ‘But’ he went on to say, ‘my wife’s an extrovert and she’s missing her workmates’. I couldn’t make out Steve’s wife’s banter in the background as she overheard our conversation. It was good to share a giggle at their ‘I’m in heaven vs I’m in hell” dilemma as we kicked off our coaching session on Friday.

It’s good to lighten things up when emotions are running high

Sometimes making light of things can help. Humour is the fastest way to connect people. Used sensitively and with good judgement, humour can help create perspective, for example, in those ‘if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry’ kind of moments.

We also need clear and direct communication when faced with uncertainty

Whether you’re a Scott Morrison fan or not, his communication at the moment is concise, direct and straight forward. We need that.

The enormity of our changing global situation due to COVID-19 is hitting hard. Whether you’re dealing with remote working, schools closing early, social isolation, job loss, health issues, and the upcoming lockdown / closure of non-essential business, we’re all getting our heads around what it means for everyone both personally and professionally.

Your communication is your most powerful leadership tool in your toolkit right now

What is the leadership voice you want to have as this situation unfolds further?

Everything happens in conversation. How safe, stable and connected people feel is influenced by what you say and do, and by what you don’t say and don’t do.

Communicate intentionally with these simple benchmarks. Ask yourself: Is this communication:

1. CRUCIAL

Is this important enough to communicate now, or can it wait?

Timing is everything in leadership. Discern what people ‘need to know’ in short time chunks so that people can pivot, establish a new normal, and feel okay before the next wave of change hits.

Streamlining communication helps reduce overwhelm and keep everyone focused on the things that matter. 

In addition to time, choose the communication channel best aligned to support how you want your communication to be received. For example, communicating 6-8 different messages via an ‘end of day team video huddle’ will help connect your team and create a shared understanding vs sending reactive emails during the day. Your extroverted people will be hanging out for more social interaction by then too.

2. CLEAR

  • Is my intention (why) clear? What is my purpose?
  • Is my message(s) clear? What do I want people to know?
  • Is my call to action clear? What do I want people to do?

Don’t put off what needs to be said. That hurts everyone.

Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind – Brene Brown

3. KIND

Is my narrative and tone thoughtful, meaningful, and compassionate (personal)? What do I want people to feel?

Your stories, examples, analogies, and vulnerability can all paint a visual picture to support your messages.

Bringing it all together

You may have more questions than answers. You might be feeling overwhelmed, frustrated or stressed. That’s totally understandable. Leading in these times could well be the hardest thing you’ve done professionally. However, the quality of your communication is creating the environment around you that is binding everyone together. You have more influence than you may realise so please use it well. Ensure your communication is crucial, clear and kind.

Lastly, please let me know how I can help you, even if it’s me being a sounding board on something.

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