Keep the Emergency Channel Open in a Pandemic and Other Cat 5 Storms. … As the winds died down and skies cleared, our ability to reach the outside world disappeared too – no cell phones, no internet, no way to reach my friends down the road. I hadn’t made a plan for my family abroad to find out if I’d lived or died. What was I thinking?! The only people with whom I could communicate is with the strangers who lived around my immediate neighbourhood.
The communications protocol for mariners when out to sea is “call and response” – every communication that is made is acknowledged as received and understood. Effective communication is essential when matters are literally a matter of life and death. Mariners also know that whenever they set sail, they are required to keep their VHF radios tuned to Channel 16. It is the universal emergency channel that is kept clear of traffic from everything other than hailing calls and is monitored by the Coast Guard for emergencies. It is also used by the Coast Guard to communicate urgent information to boaters or to send out alerts of the specific coordinates of a sailor in distress who might be near other boats.
Clear communication can quite literally save lives. In less exigent circumstances, it is a valuable metric of leadership.
Keep the Emergency Channel Open … Even before a crisis, or another kind of “Category 5” undertaking, the ability to communicate in a way that can be received, understood and receive an appropriate response is a skill we can develop and excel at. One relatively easy way is to learn about the different DISC communication behavioural styles developed by William Marston. Once these are mastered, one can match and mirror these different styles. According to Marston, there are four basic styles of communication that fall into Task or People-oriented, and Outgoing or Reserved categories. Everyone leads with one or two styles but draw from all four at different times to some degree. We may also modify our styles based on perceived stress. Imagine, if you are communicating the same way with everyone, you could be missing out on being able to persuade 75% of the population.
Below are examples of how to identify and communicate with each of the different styles, including some Dos and Don’ts. See if you recognize yourself and your coworkers and family members among these:
Tables produced and provided by Christine Perakis based on information from TTI Success Insights
According to Warren Buffet, the value of our business increases by 50% when we excel at communicating. We make quite a difference when we make the effort to communicate well. It is a prerequisite to my work with all of my clients, to focus on understanding their communication style, And, in fact, I have had clients who experience improved family relationships as they gain clarity and understanding of their own styles and preferences.
Armed with deeper understanding, every leader can then create a communication plan that is shared with the team ahead of any crisis that could jeopardize the business. In a Category 5 situation, our ability to communicate usually declines. With a plan that everyone can rely on, you reduce the inescapable conflicts that often arise during these times. With a reliable plan, everyone is encouraged to say what they think, need and feel, and knows what they can expect from each other and from leadership.
Keep the Emergency Channel Open
Another communication strategy that I have found useful is taken from a book by David Marquet, Leadership is Language. In the it, Marquet highlights what happens when leaders host a discussion first and then take a vote. In that setting, certain individuals dominate every conversation and influence the vote. This is “the wisdom of the loud,” according to Marquet. Instead, one gets better results with a “vote first, then discuss” strategy which yields uncorrupted input, and the possibility of more diverse thought, without influence by the more vocal members, especially the boss.
I have been using such a strategy for some time already, working with groups within a company. I invite everyone to write down their thoughts, opinions or ideas on a particular matter before any discussion. What ensues tends to become more collaborative and creative. Marquet calls this the “wisdom of the crowd.” It’s a great way to get to authentic communication within the group and achieve results that everyone gets on board with enthusiastically.
Mastering communication with the significant people in our lives and businesses, enables us to make greater impact and create better outcomes. Then, when the Category 5 comes, we are ready.
In this continuing series, I share strategies to weather any Category 5 crisis to not only lessen the impact, but to come through thriving. These are the “7 Barometers of Resilience” that I introduce in my upcoming book, The Resilient Leader: Life-Changing Strategies to Overcome Today’s Turmoil and Tomorrow’s Uncertainty.
More to come…