Think about the last time something went wrong in your life and how communication played a role.
Have you ever been working away at a project and things beyond your control begin to go awry? Your client, colleague, employee or boss is left in the lurch and his or her expectations are not being met. Yikes! When actions fall short of expectations, that can really hurt a relationship. The key to pulling this situation out of its downward spiral is communication.
I had a taste of that a few years back when I was flying from Toronto to Ottawa with Porter Airlines, a small commuter outfit. This is a great, friendly airline with personable staff members who are very service-oriented. This proved true on this day in question.
After traveling from the United States and getting only a couple hours of sleep, I was anxious to complete the last leg of my journey and get home. You can imagine my disappointment when the announcement came over the speakers that my flight was delayed – again. Two delays in as many hours. Was I disappointed? Yes. Was I angry? No.
Why wasn't I upset at this string of delays, you ask? There was one thing that made the difference in my reaction -- communication. Instead of leaving us in the dark wondering what was happening, Porter Airlines consistently and promptly told us about the delays as soon as they knew them. They announced that the flight was late and this was followed by frequent updates on the situation.
COMMUNICATION TIP: Bad times require good communications.
OK, so maybe Porter’s free
cappuccinos, buttery shortbreads and courtesy newspapers took the edge
off what could have been an upsetting circumstance (I love those
cookies!). It was, however, Porter's masterful updating and
communication that made an otherwise angering moment, pretty tolerable.
Once I understood and felt in the proverbial loop, I could plan
accordingly. I settled myself in at one of their courtesy WiFi computers
and got a bunch of work done. Knowing the status, timelines and what to
expect made all the difference... even when those variables changed.
A similar incident happened in
another leg of my journey with Jet Blue -- another example of good
communication when things don't go exactly as expected. We were flying
through a rough patch and the plane pitched. Just then, the chirp of the
pilot’s bell chimed and was followed by the pilot announcing what was
happening. He explained that the turbulence was normal and how long it
would last. It was his tone, his air of control, his measured pace that
told us as much as his words did, that everything would be alright. With
this communication, he allayed our concerns, let us know he was in
charge, and demonstrated that he understood our concern and need-to-know
what was happening before we even felt compelled to ask.
Does your boss keep you informed
when your organization hits a bumpy spell? Do you let your colleagues,
clients, employees and boss know what's happening and what you're doing
to control it when things go a little off track? Do you allay concerns
and proactively provide reassuring information before people feel
compelled to ask? If not, consider the other person's perspective and
provide a brief "it'll be OK, and why" update.They will appreciate it,
and you for doing it.
I’m reminded of the stock market
crash over the past few years. My mother’s financial adviser proactively
provided market summaries and explanations to all his clients, quelling
their queries much more so than had he remained silent. It didn’t
change the uncertainty of the market. It didn't change the situation and
plummeting stock values. What it did do, however, was assure his
clients that he was engaged and aware of their concerns. He validated
his clients by responding by filling the black void with information.
For anyone who has lived through organizational restructuring (and who hasn’t?), you will know how important communication is to the employee team and all stakeholders. A Director General from a large government department recently confided in me that he was discouraged about a lack of communication plans being developed to advise employees of imminent departmental changes. He felt his concerns fell upon deaf ears. Another agency I know has been struggling with transformation without communication. It seems the “Chief of Transformation” doesn’t think letting employees in on the situation is worth the effort. Dead wrong.
Here's the lesson: during times of great upheaval, whether due to external forces or initiated by the organization itself, it's time to communicate to those being affected. A “no surprises” philosophy is a productive and compassionate one. Fill the void with information because otherwise, it will be filled with fear and rumors.
When Porter Air was delayed, it
wasn’t those cute little pillbox hats that I admired (though they are
admitted unbelievably cute) – it was the communication. It made a
difference, and if you communicate when it's critical, especially when
things go bad, you'll make a good difference too.
PS: Want communication tips for your NEXT JOB INTERVIEW? Get ready to communicate "The Best You at a Job Interview".
REGISTER TODAY for the March 15, 2012 webinar http://www.marionspeaks.com/marions-products/webinars/webinar-singles
Until next time, here's to ...
Better communication, Better business, Better life,
Marion Grobb Finkelstein
Keynote Speaker / Corporate Trainer / Author
© 2012 Marion Grobb Finkelstein
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete tagline with it: Communication specialist, author, professional speaker Marion Grobb Finkelstein teaches individuals and organizations across Canada and beyond, how to improve morale, confidence and productivity by changing how they communicate. Chat with her at www.facebook.com/MarionSpeaks and sign up for her FREE weekly "Marion's Communication Tips" at www.MarionSpeaks.com