The value of interpersonal relationships while facing a crisis
Updated: Jun 7
Article published in Forbes
By: Catalina Jiménez - Director & Founder, Sentidos Comunicaciones
Let's humanize communication, strengthen our relationships with each other and, above all, let's recognize our humanity above elements such as technology.
I have been doing spokesperson training presentations for about 20 years… A few days ago we were going to have a traditional session on this topic with a client with whom we have been working for a long time and this time we wanted to train a large part of his team, all of them were new people in the organization, to whom I was going to give my first “BIG IMPRESSION”.
Confident, prepared, hair done, and with the presentation ready; I connected to the video call, five minutes in advance and tried to share my screen ... I simply could NOT do it, I did not know how to handle the technical characteristics of the platform (I must say that it is the application that seems less intuitive and practical to handle) Minutes later I managed to do it, but now without the presentation being seen in full, seeing my frustration, some spoke and tried to help me remotely, "open here", "click here" ... in the end the guidance didn't help a lot because by then, I had blocked myself. The problem was no longer with the platform, it was ME, the human being who did not respond, and had entered a small crisis.
A situation that in person would have been solved with a simple joke and some improvisation, bothered me in this virtual world, beyond what I myself would have imagined. I got frustrated, I left the session to try to restart the platform and after a moment, I came back .. The summary of that morning was that 25 minutes after the agreed time, the chat was starting. One of my colleagues had to share the presentation from her laptop and I, already shaggy, clearly irritated and annoyed with myself, was trying to find my center to refocus on my audience and not my bad mood. An hour and a half later I closed the presentation quite decently with the help of the VP of the organization who intervened frequently to support my talk and my ally who was supporting me remotely with the projection.
We are human
It is ironic because additionally to that in one of the sections of the same presentation that I had made to them, I suggested to the audience: breathe to calm down, in addition to visualizing how everything went well before a presentation ... well, nothing came out as it was planned and I understood then that no matter how “trained” we are, no matter how much we prepare on a topic and regardless of how many times something has gone well before, at the end of the story, we are all human and we have good days and others in those that perhaps are not so. In those moments it is always good to go to the other human, what happened in my case of "crisis"? The frustrating beginning, I was forgiven because luckily the managers in addition to being my clients, are great friends and have known me for a long time. in a personal and professional way and thanks to the timely help of my colleague with his support in the presentation. I can't stop thinking about how good relationships save us again and again, they are support, support and strength.
I remembered how a few days ago we talked about the crisis and how we should be prepared with a reputation management plan in the face of it, I thought that if something as "simple" as not being able to share a presentation can be, generates this impotence and discomfort in someone; What can be the feeling of a reputational crisis of an organization when something does not go as planned and its good image is being violated?
A few months ago, the owner of a well-known fair in my country was accused of mistreating one of her employees and the news spread like a wildfire, via videos, hashtags, witnesses and replies in the media and social networks; the situation became more complex when said person did not recognize her failure and tried to continue to justify herself, then she was met with more and more criticism and the discontent of some other people who had had the opportunity to work with her long ago. I'm not going to go into making value judgments about her behavior, but I do believe that genuinely and authentically meticulous care of her relationships in advance would have helped her contain the “mess”; days later she apologized and appealed that humans are always learning, maybe it was a bit late to expose her humanity, but I think that asking for forgiveness is always valuable.
Now, in the face of a crisis, an organization must: make the situation visible, understand its origin, recognize what is happening, generate a public statement, offer an apology, be transparent about the facts, present solutions and correct possible errors committed if the case. But above all, we must listen to our public, know what they think, what they feel, how they have experienced what happened and if they feel affected and understand how this can interfere in our relationship with them.
And even when we follow these steps, there are things that get out of our hands and only the proper management of our relationships with others will get us out of the mess, either to contain a reputational crisis and rely on the support of our audiences or to Make all the possible mistakes in a “routine” presentation with a client and be able to carry it out without being crucified for that.
Let us humanize communication, strengthening our relationships with each other and, above all, recognize our humanity above elements such as technology, which, although it helps us to fulfill our work, is just that, a support and let eachother know that things are fixed from human to human... After a crisis there is nothing better than talking with the other, talking, not assuming, asking, leaning on those who support us and always thinking what can we do better next time so that things do not fail ? And how do I keep working on my relationships?
* The author is the director of Sentidos Comunicaciones.
The opinions expressed are solely the responsibility of their authors and are completely independent of the position and editorial line of Forbes Central America.