Crisis: The physiological/psychological impact

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Research has shown that the pressures of a crisis can trigger physical reactions capable of distorting perceptions, decisions and outcomes, including: stimulation of the amygdala, which activates the “flight or fight” response, reduction of available working memory and a (self-reinforcing) lack of sleep.

These conditions can then impair executive function in numerous ways, including: a tendency to mistake assumptions for facts; the inability or reluctance to make any decision “until all the facts are in” (a luxury rarely available in a crisis); “tunnel vision” (seeing only the fire that needs to be put out, or focusing only on what has just happened); confirmation bias (the tendency to filter out information, or stakeholder perspectives, that do not confirm to preconceived notions); overconfidence bias (assuming we know more than we actually do, or can handle more than we actually can).

Stakeholder management: The 5 guiding principles

Compile a list of all your relevant stakeholders, internal and external

Assess each one’s specific needs and nuances

Identify the team best positioned to play the leading role in communications — and the resources needed — for each stakeholder

Design the mechanisms needed to both “push” information to, and “pull” (and respond to) inquiries from, each stakeholder

Balance consistency and customisation: While all your communications should adhere to the same basic script, ensure that each is tailored to the needs and concerns of the individual stakeholder

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