A key rule when reacting to any situation: If your response comes only from the heart, you’re doing it wrong.
In all of the time we spend trying to send a message, build a relationship, attract followers to our business, product, or cause, are we using each word and moment to its maximum effectiveness?
More intentionally, is the way we respond actually counterproductive to our goal, causing us to throw in the towel prematurely because we’re not getting results?
Our world is changing. It is becoming bolder, more inclusive, and more demanding of us to present our best selves. More so, our responses in the digital age no longer have the luxury of time, either.
But, the challenge of leading authentically and inspiring those around us isn’t as insurmountable. Both businesses and individuals spend a great deal of time trying to find the right words to respond to situations.
The first thing to do is to start from our hearts. But, once we’ve reminded ourselves who we are and what we value — what’s next?
In the past, our team has written about how striking the right response in a new, unstable situation can be the difference between a business crisis and business disruption. Before we act, or react to external motivations, we need to breathe. Take a step back and commit to channeling our energies into organized, deliberate responses. When we don’t, we’re of limited (or no) use. We add to the chaos and create an even greater mess. Thus, a crisis ensues.
If our hearts store our passions, fuel our persistence, and keep us true to ourselves, then our heads keep us grounded and organized. Alone, each is weak and incomplete. But together, they are strong. And so are you. Overwhelming crises then become manageable disruptions — opportunities for growth and change because of challenge, and not despite it.
If you can refine your goal, you’ve started off right. Clients who have come to us looking for help have sometimes presented a dozen or so different topics, wanting them somehow conveyed all at once. Instead of appearing well-rounded, they ended up all over the place. Right then and there — before any dissemination of information — we refocus on one key thing or key message important and authentic to the organization. Everyone wants to capture attention with an authentic message. But, to retain attention and accomplish your ultimate goal, the message needs to be simplified, succinct, and organized.
Then, don’t just talk for the sake of talking. Choose your words and actions with care; choose them as if you don’t have the chance to swap them out later for something else. You can withdraw or course-correct, but your audience will remember what you said the first time, too.
We tend to forget that in most situations, we do have time when formulating a response. I’m reminded of a quote by Jawaharlal Nehru, a central figure in modern Indian history: “Crises and deadlocks, when they occur, have at least this advantage: that they force us to think.”
Persist: This word has maybe become clichéd in recent years but has lost none of its relevance. Once you’ve honed your message, say it more than once, and appeal to as many senses as you can to ensure impact. Put the weight of your conviction and the truth behind your message. One of the main messaging rules we abide by is this: If you’re not exhausted, they haven’t heard it yet. People will know your heart is in the right place, and as we know, some messages are too important to worry about “over-communicating.”
Make sure your decisions have long-term orientation. Be strategic and tactical. Take that extra breath or that step back, confident in the knowledge that you know what you need to say and what you want to achieve. And spend the extra time formulating your strategy before you act, which will only strengthen its impact. Use your heart and your head, and you’ll always win.
This article originally appeared in the Memphis Business Journal as a guest column by Caissa partner Adrian Bond.