As you know, I spent the last two weeks taking a much-needed break and I even got away for a little vacation by the water in Connecticut.
The Conflict Closer in me does not stop though and I quickly picked up on what’s going on in the outside world. Being sheltered-in since mid-March has kept me secluded from the goings on in the day to day world of interacting with people face to face… or really mask to mask.
So, I was having a great time at the resort while also noticing what was going on. It went something like this:
My first night there, I was encouraged by John at the front desk to call them to have a log brought up for my fireplace. I did and it was so relaxing. On the third night when I called to the front desk, I was told by someone else that he would have to ask a manager about bringing up a log and when he called back, he shared that they never light logs in the summer. Of course, I told him of my previous day’s experience, but to no avail and honestly, I just wanted to relax and try to take a vacation from resolving every conflict as well.
Oh, but it did not stop there. On this same day, I got free coffee at the front desk and was offered half and half from the large pitcher they had. The next day, I was told that they can only serve the little pre-packaged creams and never have the fresh half and half, I would need to go to the restaurant to get it. Same thing the next day.
So, by now I am in HIGH observation mode.
On my third day of ordering room service from their amazing restaurant, the person delivering my tray informed me that due to Covid19 she was not allowed to enter my room. I told her that was a surprise given four different people before her did enter my room on previous days, but she was not budging.
I was clearly in vacation mode, because rather than frustrating me, all of this was intriguing me. So, I kept my observation eyes open beyond my usual looking for who is wearing a mask and who is not and how far away they are from me. When I brought my youngest son back to campus, when I shopped in the store at Target, when I picked up my prescription from my local drugstore, I observed heavily.
And folks, communication during the time of Covid19 is creating more conflict than ever before and likely endangering people’s health.
So, here is what I am offering up for leaders as some important solutions to communicating effectively during these times:
- Assume that your employees or team have mixed views about Covid19, but that at least half of them are operating in fear.
- Understand that fear unchecked makes its own rules no matter what it has been told.
- Have an open, honest, and safe conversation with everyone about feelings, thoughts, fears and new policies.
- Remind them of the current policies that are still in place.
- Put all operating instructions in writing and make sure to go over them verbally with everyone. Check for understanding.
- Role-play everything new. That’s right, play out as many situations that may come up as a group together.
- Provide scripts so that everyone knows what to say.
- Be available for ongoing questions, expressions of fear, and necessary modifications.
- Implement regular check-ins with everyone both individually and as a whole group.
- Keep meeting regularly about this and meet all objections with both compassion and firmness around sticking to the new policies.
There has never been a time like this in our lifetimes and it requires that we pay even more attention to how we are communicating, how often and how effective we are at it.
As we continue to say to each other “stay safe” we need to recognize that safety starts and ends with our best communication.
Let’s do it right!