What’s Love Got to Do With It?
With Valentine’s Day upon us, it seems appropriate to talk about the touchy-feely, lovey-dovey part of crisis management. From my experience, with any crisis comes a lot of emotion—panic, anger, shame, sadness. Clients are often overwhelmed emotionally when, for example, firing a CEO, resigning from a long-held position, or reacting to a lawsuit. Despite all those big feelings, the statements you see in the media are often quite the opposite—just robotic, emotionless stock language. So, where does all the emotion go?
Perhaps we are conditioned to think a corporate or professional response is only appropriate if it is dry and devoid of any feeling. However, I often think that these boilerplate types of statements can sometimes hurt your client even further. A little humanity, or perhaps I should say, a little love can go a long way.
If you are devastated to announce that a CEO has been fired to the internal team you care about, why not show some of that emotion? If you are resigning after decades in the same position, it doesn’t hurt to humanize your response to the press and convey at least some of what you feel. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing for your “I can’t comment on pending litigation” to turn into “I am bereaved and can’t comment further because I cry every time I think about this lawsuit.” However, if you are making a statement, especially if it involves another human being, think about what that statement sounds like if it is lifeless and heartless. Is that really the message you want to convey?
It’s acceptable and even desirable to show a little compassion, as most people want and expect that from their leaders, clients, and community officials.
I’ve had clients come to me distraught about a certain decision, and then they suggest that they release a cold statement like, “John Smith is no longer with the company.” Period. While there may be legal and other reasons not to go into every detail about John Smith’s departure, warming up the announcement with a little emotion would certainly help humanize the person or entity making it. Briefly acknowledge John Smith—or perhaps more appropriately in many instances—acknowledge those who worked with John Smith for so long. It’s acceptable and even desirable to show a little compassion, as most people want and expect that from their leaders, clients, and community officials. Sometimes that surprising show of emotion can go a long way to further your client’s message or make your business appear more empathetic and relatable. So, this Valentine’s season, remember to express those emotions.
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