In Times of Crisis, Be Human

Over the past few weeks, we’ve all received messages and updates from just about every company with whom we’ve ever done business. Unfortunately, too many of these emails sound the same and ring hollow. As we said in another recent blog, during a crisis, leaders lead. And part of that means communicating on a more human, personal level. Here are a few tips and best practices:

  1. Speak in first person. Use “I”, ‘We” and “You.” Even if it is an email or web site message, write it as if you are having a one-on-one conversation with the recipient. 
  2. Share information in an honest, empathetic way, and if possible, personalize it. Over the weekend, I received an email from the CEO of Delta airlines that was a great example of this. In it, he wrote, “We also understand you have significant life moments like graduations and weddings this time of year, and many of those plans are in flux. As a dad with three grown children and one still in high school, I empathize with you. We continue to make it easier to change or cancel your flights with no fee via My Trips on” Sure, he could have simply wrote the last sentence to communicate his message, but by sharing his personal story, it came across earnest, and I felt more connected. 
  3. Talk about how you are caring for your own team/staff as well as your customers/patients. People are taking notice of how businesses are treating their employees during this time and even sharing examples on social media like the Texas Roadhouse CEO giving up his salary to pay his front-line workers. When we get through this crisis, people will remember the businesses that took care of their own people. 
  4. Be specific. Avoid speaking in language that is too general. Mention the specific things you are doing in your practice to keep everyone safe and healthy. 
  5. Share ways that you are helping your most vulnerable populations. Whether it is offering special early or late hours for people with high-risk conditions or expanded telemedicine services, reassure people they can get the care they need and that you are paying special attention to their safety and unique needs.  
  6. Consider a video message. Seeing someone talk can be more powerful than written words alone. One of our local pediatricians sent out a video message talking directly to the parents of his patients about the practice’s extended availability and telemedicine services — all while holding his own baby girl. 
  7. Convey hope for the future. Everyone is looking for the ray of sunshine at the end of this storm. Provide reassurance that we will get through this and that you look forward to better days ahead. You can even share a favorite quote or story about overcoming adversity, gratitude or optimism. 
  8. Express gratitude to your own team as well as others in your community who are directly fighting the COVID-19 battle. Whether it is simple hand-written note cards, a video message or a meal delivery, find creative and meaningful ways to recognize their dedication, courage and leadership.