5 Ways to Reassure Your Team When the News Is Scary


By Allison Shapira
May 6, 2020

With COVID-19 concerns spreading around the globe, many business leaders are asking how they can communicate uncertainty both internally to their teams and externally to their clients. How can companies manage high-stakes communications to various audiences simultaneously?

Here are five effective steps:

  1. PAUSE AND BREATHE: Before you start communicating to others, give yourself a minute. Taking a moment to center yourself will ensure that you present a calm, rational force to your colleagues and clients. This applies over the phone or email as well.
  2. PUT YOURSELF IN YOUR AUDIENCE’S SHOES: What are your audience’s concerns, questions or interests? The quicker you address what’s on their mind, the quicker you’ll be able to calm them. If you don’t address their most pressing interests, they might not even listen.
  3. DO YOUR RESEARCH: In times of stress, misinformation can be especially destructive. Seek out credible sources of information, and read the information fully before distilling it into clear, concise language. Share it with others.
  4. SPEAK CLEARLY AND CONFIDENTLY: You can speak with confidence even without 100% certainty. You can express doubt or uncertainty while still sounding like you’re in control of the situation. Communicate frequently with your audience, even without news to report, so that they know you are actively following the issue.
  5. HAVE SPECIFIC NEXT STEPS: Discussing your own next steps or recommending next steps to your audience gives them a sense of control, so they feel like they’re contributing to stabilization.

Copyright 2020 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.


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