It’s not what you say, but how you say it. Just imagine hearing of the tragic passing of your loved one … by text message. The news in itself is devastating. But that is exactly what airline officials did. ABC news reported that It was communicated:
“Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia’s Prime Minister, we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean,” the (text) message read.
It was reported that “Malaysia Airlines Families Fainted, cried and screamed over the news”. Would the result have been the same had the message been verbally communicated? Probably, but the leaders would have appeared a lot more considerate.
As the old adage suggests, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. In this age of digital communication, it is still necessary for leaders to understand the context of what is being said before selecting the mode of communication. Using text message to communicate tragic death announcement after a long period of waiting, anxiety and mental anguish can appear inconsiderate.
No doubt the leaders of the missing aircraft were themselves tired and anxious, and wanted to bring comfort and closure to tired, anxious and grieving relatives. Speed did the job (by text), but in this case speed was like putting a cold turkey into the microwave and pressing “a minute express cook”… it doesn’t work. Grieving family members want empathy. They want to know that in spite of it all leaders care and are doing their best.
Organizational leaders, let’s take this as a learning and practice effective communication. Select the right method because as the old adage says… it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
Now its your turn. Do you believe that the method of communication was appropriate? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.