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Crises Can Confuse Communication

Crises Can Confuse Communication

Failing in communication can have a big impact during a crisis. Sometimes things that are transparent to one party may be interpreted differently by another. Therefore, choosing certain words can help us to persuade and win over people we are talking to.

@lila_ls86

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Talking vs Speaking

During a crisis, using the word "talk" to begin a conversation, "Can we talk about how you are?" often gets a negative response. The reason is that we place little value on "talk." Talk is cheap or meaningless. However, substituting the word with "speak", seems to have better results.

"Talk" is loaded with context that makes it fruitless in these scenarios, while the word "speak" is free from those associations.

Being Willing

The principles for a positive and constructive discussion are framing your conversation in positivity.

By framing conversations to focus on the positive, one can move a problem forward.

Unintended Consequences

Conversations between doctors and parents talking about the wellbeing of a child can often look like negotiations, even if not intended.

Parents may say that they are worried that their child may have an infection and the doctor may think that the parent expects antibiotics.

The doctor hears “infection” and immediately makes the connection with antibiotics. But for parents, that association does not exist.

Something vs Anything

In a study, one group of physicians were instructed to ask their patients: "Is there anything else you want to address?" The other group were asked to say: "Is there something else you want to address?"

With "anything" 53% of patients raised extra concerns.
With "something" 90% of patients raised extra concerns.

By substituting one word, we can raise a willingness to address concerns.

People in crisis are often emotional and incoherent. 

Questions with “Yes” or “No” answers are very useful for getting information quickly.

With more subtle questions, give a "menu" of at least three possible answers to avoid the question being misinterpreted.

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