There are always times of uncertainty, friends. Some seem worse than others, and the world we live in right now is one of those times.
People like to point out “times of change” in history and speak about it with wonder, but let me tell you, living in it doesn’t always feel so good.
Are you with me?
But here’s another secret:
Life is always changing. There are always times of uncertainty.
It just so happens that today is one of the significant changes really fast.
So what do we do?
Well, as leaders, one of these we need to do to lead better is to communicate well.
With that in mind, today we’ll cover 3 tips for communicating effectively in uncertain times.
It’s an important one in today’s world, so let’s dig in.
The Greatest Time To Be Alive
Today is a snapshot in time of our incredible lives, and we get to live at the greatest time ever to be alive.
Let me challenge some limiting beliefs and assumptions.
I’m saying it is the best time in the world to be alive.
How about that? Easy for me to say, right?
Let’s chunk it down, and let’s get real.
My friend, we are leaders, and we chose this path because of that.
We need to stick together.
We need to keep on communicating like this.
I encourage you as a leader to our Facebook group.
Please get involved in our Leadership In A Nutshell private community.
You’ve got to fill out a couple of quick questions to make sure that you’re a leader. Why? Because I want leaders in their open forum, not people who just talk and post about nothing.
It’s about helping you through the struggle.
It’s about putting out winning opportunities for you to connect with like-minded individuals.
People just like you.
It’s what I’m on this planet for.
It’s why I’m facilitating this group in this community.
You’re In The People Business, Embrace It
Today, it’s about communicating.
It’s about being able to lead.
How do I communicate with my team?
What are they looking for right now?
Here’s the reality: regardless of your industry, you are in the people business.
Let’s say it again.
You are in the people business.
My friend, I owned a plumbing, heating, and air conditioning company for 24 years.
I always said it is about people, not plumbing.
If you’re in the manufacturing business, you’re in the people business.
I couldn’t care less about what industry you’re in because the answer is the same.
Nothing is made without the people.
Nothing happens without the people that make up a business.
I hear you saying:
Oh well, there’s technology in there, software companies, and there are things that run automatically.
I don’t care.
Everything happens by people, and let’s get clear about that.
People struggle because of the lack of effective communication in the world today.
When something like a pandemic dumps on you by unclear leadership at the global level, state, county, city, or whatever it is, you get stress and confusion.
And today’s point is that we’re here to talk about you and the team you are communicating with.
So when we start to think about this whole communication piece, I want you to write this down.
- Don’t just communicate okay. Over-communicate.
Absolutely. I’m talking about when you think, okay, I’ve hit them right here.
They’re about to be full. Now we over-communicate that.
I want you to get clear about that when you say something.
I’ve heard it said once when your team is beginning to roll their eyes about what you’re saying, that’s when it starts to sink in.
Sometimes it happens around your vision, your mission, your core values, different things like that. We must over-communicate.
Beat That Drum
We must consistently beat the drums as top leaders in our organizations.
If your team’s not going, “Oh, here we go again,” you’re not doing it enough.
I can almost hear the jingle of my core values. I say it all the time, we’re:
- Abundance minded
When I say it, my employees are like:
Oh my gosh, here we go again.
Hey, now we’re getting somewhere.
Pandemic Lack Of Communication
The same is true right now.
When people have going:
Wait a minute; I’m not sure what’s going on.
As a leader, you’ve got to continue to enter the conversation in their mind.
Why? Because you’ve communicated with them.
If you’ve done your part in over-communicating, your own voice will pop in there and answer their questions.
Then their day goes on. They have different interactions.
So later on, they’re working with vendors, clients, and other team members.
They go home, and they’re dealing with family, community, and church.
If they know what you believe, they take that security with them. If they don’t, they spread the uncertainty as well.
Watching The News
I’ll say the four-letter word, the news.
I’m not talking about fake news or any particular news.
But I recently had an experience that showed me how the news and their messages were not on point.
They don’t over-communicate one thing or one standard. They communicate something different all the damn time.
I recently realized something when the lovely Christie and I visited upstate New York around her father’s area.
We’re just out doing different things and not watching the news.
I rarely watched much news anyway, but I had gotten sucked into watching a little more because of “these times.”
And then we went for about a week without anything.
Then I sat down and noticed my psychology changing.
I was like, “Whoa! What’s going on? This is relaxing.”
I’m not talking about burying your head in the sand.
I mean, the news was over-communicating different things, and it stressed me out.
Over-communicate the right things, and those you will function better.
I’m talking about your head, and I’m talking about your heart.
That’s my job to protect those by over-communicating the right things with my team.
#2 Have Empathy For People’s Struggles
The next one is a big one:
Have empathy for people’s struggles.
You must have empathy for people’s perspective right now in uncertain times.
When people don’t know exactly what’s going on, when there’s a massive change being chosen by you as a leader in your organization, the stress levels rise.
People handle uncertainty differently. Have empathy for that.
You might be more like-minded.
You might be a little more optimistic.
Maybe you’re more of a honey badger when it comes to change, and you want to tackle it.
All responses are valid and fair. Demanding how others respond without empathy is a quick way to some disgruntled employees and friends.
Speaking of change, have you checked out my book?
Click to check out the 6 Dimensions of Change.
Frustration Stems From Lack Of Empathy
Whatever your perspective is, that’s fine.
But whatever your team member’s perspective is also acceptable.
Sometimes as driven minded leaders, we can get frustrated and be like:
“I can’t believe it, man. I want to send this team member off to training, and they’re afraid to get on an airplane. What the heck!”
You have got to honor that and have empathy for that as a driven leader in the organization. Even if you don’t understand it, it’s okay.
But when you’re communicating and over-communicating for understanding rather than being understood, you gain ground with your team.
Now, suddenly your team sees you as real.
They might understand that you’re on different sides of the aisle, as far as your belief systems.
The disagreements come from a lack of empathy and a lack of respectful communication.
Whether you have different political beliefs, religious beliefs, or whether you still believe in Santa Claus or not, I don’t care; it all stems from a lack of empathy.
It doesn’t matter what it is.
What matters is that you’re all rowing in the same direction in the canoe of your business.
If your leadership and the direction that you want this company to go comes from a place of empathy and understanding, they are in your canoe.
So let’s make sure that we’re rowing together as well as we possibly can.
One of the best ways to do that is to have empathy.
Fear Is Real For All People
Here’s the reality. Fear is real.
Anybody ever had that wondering:
Huh? I wonder how I’m going to make payroll.
My gosh, it’s Tuesday and payroll’s Friday, and we’ve had a low couple of sales weeks, and cash flow hasn’t been great.
I’ll raise my hand here. I’ve had times in my career where this is an issue.
Guess what? That steams! That hurts now that I’ve been in business since I was 23 years old.
Unfortunately, I had to learn that lesson a few times and knock on wood.
Fortunately, I’m not currently still learning those lessons.
Hopefully, I’ve graduated from the school of not making payroll, right?
But when I’m in that school, it’s real.
It’s no different than my niece, who recently became a dental hygienist.
She was gearing up for some of her finals in school, and she called her mom saying:
Oh my gosh, I’m getting anxiety and panic attacks about this test.
As driven leaders with many years more experience, we knew it would be no big deal. She studied, and she knew what she was doing.
We told her:
You know you’ll be fine.
And you’ll pass the test.
But the fear was real, and we had empathy for that. Yes, she was fine, but the fear was real.
By the way, she got a 98, and she was worried!
The same is true with your team members when it comes to all these different types of things.
#3 People Are Looking For Leadership
Here’s the fact: the third thing I want you to remember is people are looking for leadership.
People are craving leadership.
One of the reasons that people are so divided and trying to get in these different camps of politics or beliefs is that somebody has to be wrong.
If I make somebody else wrong, then perhaps intrinsically, I might feel right.
That’s just human behavior. It is what it is.
We’re not here to make it right, wrong, or indifferent.
As leaders, we are here to study it, learn what we can from it, and understand it to the best of our ability.
As a result, we can influence behavior to get the results that we want for our team members, our clients, our vendors, our community, and everybody that we impact in our own circle of influence, my friend.
When we realize people are craving leadership, we are open to stepping in to provide empathetic clarity.
What About Pushback?
If they’re coming at you pushing back a little bit, it means they’ve been burned.
It means they’ve been lied to.
It means you haven’t had the opportunity to gain their trust.
Stepping up and becoming an action-taker and clear out the uncertainty builds that trust.
The reality is people are looking for certainty.
Tony Robbins talks about human needs.
We desire certainty.
And almost as much as that, we desire uncertainty or change.
Guess what? We’ve got tons of uncertainty.
Your team has more uncertainty than they’ve probably ever had in their lives, regardless of their age.
It is up to you to have certainty.
Even if it is about uncertainty.
Uncertainty As Certainty?
Kenny, what are you talking about now? You’re starting to lose me. Holy cow!
Hey, the fact of the matter is sometimes you don’t have certainty to offer.
There isn’t a leadership map to success.
But you say:
Hey, look, I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. But what I will promise is that I am certain that I’m going to give you everything that I’ve got as your leader.
I’m going to train this management team with everything that we’ve got.
We are going to utilize every resource we’ve got.
We’re going to make the most of every client opportunity we’ve got
Then, we’re going to handle our marketing to the best of our ability to make our client acquisition process as streamlined as possible.
I am certain that I will give you everything that I’ve got.
Just those words alone are more certain than people get from the news from their family.
You may not have the exact right equipment for the right game as it stands, but letting them know how hard you’ll work and lead is a strong measure of certainty.
Now is the time for you to rise and shine.
It’s time for you to focus on the three keys to improving your communication during uncertain times and times of change.
- Over-communicate your message
- Have empathy for people’s problems
- Recognize people are looking for leadership and step up
Until next time, make it a better-than-fantastic day!
About Kenny Chapman
Kenny Chapman’s mission is to help driven leaders build their ideal lives and careers (even if they don’t know what that looks like yet). He is an award-winning authority on helping people discover their true potential and make the simple, though not always easy, necessary changes.
Kenny is a professionally trained speaker, consultant, columnist, author of The Six Dimensions of Change 2.0 and In-Home Sales Acceleration, and host of the Leadership in a Nutshell podcast. He is an entrepreneur at heart, building multiple successful companies, most recently the Blue Collar Success Group. His teachings have inspired individuals worldwide to reshape their lives and organizations, creating sustainable change, happiness, and personal fulfillment.