My Mum has given me an eclectic bag of advice over the years, ranging from the somewhat dubious ‘Never trust a man who wears polo necks’ and ‘Eating stale bread is good for you because mould is just penicillin’ to the more sensible ‘Don’t go out with wet hair unless you want to catch a cold.’
One thing she often said to me, whether I was starting a new school, going for a job interview or even a first date, was ‘Just be yourself and they’ll love you’.
There has been endless advice over the last few weeks on how to do good communications during this pandemic (including a previous blog from me!) Lots of analysis too on businesses that are doing it well and those that aren’t. If you don’t feel that communications is your forte, it could be quite overwhelming. Which is why I think my Mum’s advice is spot on for people who are anxious about what to say or not to say. We all need to just be ourselves right now.
So, what does this mean in terms of the way you communicate?
- Be authentic
Literally no-one wants a hard sell or a lecture at the moment, we don’t have the mental bandwidth for it. Whoever you are – our bosses, politicians, supermarket chiefs – you need to be genuine and real.
- Be truthful
We also don’t want spin or bull. So, don’t promise something unless you know you can deliver on it and don’t be afraid to admit you don’t have all the answers. People will respect you for your honesty and you are more likely to gain their trust and loyalty.
- Show emotion
I’ve heard several accounts of people saying they’ve seen their usually professional work colleague get tearful on a Zoom call. It feels as though the stigma around mental health issues has been somewhat cast aside as people are more readily admitting that this is causing anxiety, panic and depression.
Showing emotion at this extraordinary time actually makes us more relatable to others. That doesn’t mean you have to cry on every conference call, but now is the time to relax that corporate tone of voice on your customer newsletter and sound genuinely human.
- Be kind
Hearing about acts of kindness give us a lift right now, so do share these stories if you have them. But also, be kind in your communicating, especially on things like your social media accounts. Remember that even the biggest corporates’ Twitter accounts will have a real person with feelings responding to your snarky tweet. And I’m led to believe that even Piers Morgan has feelings – so if you can’t bring yourself to be nice, then consider keeping quiet.
- Don’t worry about the competition
Never has competition seemed so unimportant. Supermarkets are working together. Pharmaceutical companies are working together. Our political leaders should be working together. So just focus on what it is that you have to offer.
These are tough times, but they do give us an opportunity to strip away the façade and just be ourselves. Good luck and stay safe everyone.