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Communicating in high stress situations

Rusty Cawley, APR
Rusty Cawley, APR
Rusty Cawley, APRAssistant Director, Communications and Public Relations, Division of Research, Texas A&M University

When stress is high, the rules for effective communication change radically.

Communicating in high stress situations

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Download to read offline
How to Communicate
in High Stress
Situations*
Rusty Cawley, APR | TheColdCrisis.com
* Condensed from the National Center for Food Protection and Defense’s
“Risk Communicator Training for Food Defense Preparedness, Response &
Recovery,” module 3, topic 1.
Basic model for communication
The Sender
Basic model for communication
The Receiver
Basic model for communication
The Channel
Basic model for communication
The Message
Basic model for communication
Feedback

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Communicating in high stress situations

  • 1. How to Communicate in High Stress Situations* Rusty Cawley, APR | TheColdCrisis.com * Condensed from the National Center for Food Protection and Defense’s “Risk Communicator Training for Food Defense Preparedness, Response & Recovery,” module 3, topic 1.
  • 2. Basic model for communication The Sender
  • 3. Basic model for communication The Receiver
  • 4. Basic model for communication The Channel
  • 5. Basic model for communication The Message
  • 6. Basic model for communication Feedback
  • 7. Basic model for communication The Environment
  • 8. Basic model for communication Noise
  • 10. Establishing trust in LOW stress situations Competence & expertise 80-85% All other factors 15%-20% Trust factors Source: Vincent Covello
  • 11. Establishing trust in HIGH stress situations Listening, caring & empathy 50% Honesty & openness 15%-20% Competence & expertise 15-20% All other factors 15-20% Trust factors Source: Vincent Covello
  • 12. 9/11 attack on New York City • ‘The loss of life … is greater than any of us can possible bear.’ – Mayor Rudy Giuliani
  • 13. Impact of high stress • The sender must emphasize caring and openness. • The receiver loses some capacity to understand and recall messages. • Listening carefully to feedback becomes crucial.
  • 14. Effects of stress on communication Low stress • People can process an average of 7 messages. • They recall information in linear order (1,2,3 …) • They process messages at an eighth-grade level • Trust is built on competence and experience. Source: Vincent Covello
  • 15. Effects of stress on communication Low stress • People can process an average of 7 messages. • They recall information in linear order (1,2,3 …) • They process messages at an eighth-grade level • Trust is built on competence and experience. High stress • People can process an average of 3 messages. • They recall what they perceive as most important or what is said last. • They process messages at a fourth-grade level. • Trust is built on listening, empathy, caring and compassion Source: Vincent Covello
  • 16. How do we adjust for high stress?
  • 17. 1. Send simple messages • Maximum: 3 messages. • Use short sentences. • Blend empathy with action. • Use numbers sparingly.
  • 18. 2006 E.coli spinach outbreak • ‘We are telling everyone to get rid of fresh bagged spinach right now.’ – Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle
  • 19. 2006 E.coli spinach outbreak • ‘To be safe, don’t eat it.’ – Minnesota Health Department
  • 20. 2006 E.coli spinach outbreak • ‘It's sickening for us to see anybody in the public suffer in this way, especially if they got ill from eating at Taco John's.’ –Corporate Vice President for Marketing
  • 21. 2. Emphasize pictures and diagrams
  • 22. To learn more, visit TheColdCrisis.com Search: #COLDCRISIS