What I’m Listening To: Pod Save the People from Crooked Media and Encyclopedia Womannica podcast from Wonder Media Network
What I’m Reading: Untamed by Glennon Doyle (for the third time)
What I’m Watching: The Librarians series on Hulu (for the second time)
Over the last 10 weeks, I’ve been functioning as the PIO for the county-wide EOC. This was my first time using what I’ve learned from PIO courses in a real emergency. I stepped away from my normal duties of marketing and promoting my community to residents, visitors, and businesses. I took a deep dive into crisis communication, public health, emergency medical services, and emergency management. I’m still trying to process what I learned and apply all that to my day job. Yet, one thing has become very apparent: Two-way communication is essential for local government – bother internally and externally. Whether it’s communicating with and listening to your employees, communicating with and listening to your residents, or communicating with and listening to your business community.
Without communication, you’re going nowhere. Especially during a crisis. When it’s good – it’s good. But when communication breaks down, it can be ugly. So I wanted to share a few tips that I scribbled as notes to myself at the EOC:
- Be a calming voice – even if inside you’re not calm at all and choose your words wisely.
- Listen to your audience.
- Be attentive and ask open-ended questions during conversations.
- Keep it simple; don’t over complicate things. Information can change quickly, and the simpler you keep it – the better.
- Paraphrase and summarize the information you want people to remember.
- Really listen to your audience.
- Be smart about delivering your message in a variety of ways.
- Pay attention, stay tuned in, and have I mentioned really listen to your audience? Be attuned to and reflect the feelings of your audience.
- Make sure you are transparent; if you make a mistake, own up to it. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you don’t, but you’ll work to find it. Being transparent leads to trust, and trusted communication is best.
Yes, my job is to communicate and market every day. Still, these tips could apply to any leadership role in your local municipality. Having meaningful, open two-way communication with those who look to you for answers or guidance is just as important as that new public works project or the budget you’re discussing. Excellent communication and active listening strengthen your workplace, your community, and your relationships.
Note: I’ve started, edited, and deleted this Morning Buzz about 200 times. Whenever I began typing, what I say seems inadequate with the current reality of what is happening in our communities. I spent the weekend doing a lot of self-education and sitting with the discomfort of everything. I’ve felt a torrent of emotions: Anger. Anxiety. Anguish. Fear. Frustration. Profound sadness. And sometimes hope, as I see people representing the rainbow of humanity coming together in solidarity against institutional racism and injustice. I’m doing my best to communicate and actively listen on a personal level, and I hope you are too.