Whatever the news – whether changes to protocols, policies or ways of working, how the information is understood is just as important as the message itself, the words used and the person giving it.
What is said and what is heard can be different. It’s easy to make a message confusing or misunderstood.
Whatever our intention we cannot guarantee that our listeners are actually listening. They could have worries of their own preoccupying them, they may believe that your ‘news’ is bad, about redundancy or rejection and they are just focused on waiting to hear that word.
Good news and positive feedback are often discounted when one sentence suggests a situation could have been handled differently or better.
Clarity of communication is always important not just in times of pandemic and crisis.
When we are unclear about the focus of this news we only hear part of the information … which changes its impact and success.
Once we hear something we have been dreading we focus on that individual word or phrase and not on the other related information that gives overall perspective and balance.
It’s a habit we all need to work on – the wider your news has to spread, the greater its importance to you and the company and the further it has to travel, the easier it is for misunderstandings and confusion to occur.
Preparing to share news: Consider…
- What do you want to say? What words and phrases will you use?
- Who is the message for?
- Are they expecting this news? How are you preparing them to hear it?
- What do you believe they already know? How can you be sure?
- What might they know?
- What do you want people to do as a result of the news?
- What do you want to see and hear as a result of the message you’ve given?
- Are you expecting a different impact to previous messages?
Sharing the News
The structure of your message and the words you use can make all the difference.
- Tell them what you are going to say (and why)
- Give your message – be as jargon free as you can
- Tell them what you said (using different words) , why, and what happens next
If your news is being transmitted in different time zones, create an online space for questions.
Make sure the Q&A are closely monitored so that responses are timely.
If a response requires some thought or research, give a ‘holding’ reply: ‘I’m going to find out and get back to you in a day or so…’
Manage the expectations of those people who you want to take on the message.
Remember to provide follow up
Let people know the impact of your news.
Tell them when the next update will be.
The success of effective messaging is when others follow your approach and less time is spent on dealing with misunderstandings.