I don’t remember much about that day, a handful of years ago, except this epiphany springing from my then middle-school-aged son.
“Wow, mom. Your job is really hard.”
As I focused in on his piercing blue eyes, wide with this newfound knowledge, I felt his heart touching mine. My husband and I had been engaged in verbal ping pong across the kitchen table over dinner. It was one of those periods in time when a family is stretched, and quite candidly, overwhelmed by health concerns. My sons had been following the conversation, soaking it in, heads and glances moving right and left. Then, a breath.
“You have to take care of your parents and us,” he added.
My son’s illuminating discovery has resided within me for the simple reason that his expression of concern was spontaneous. His oral reckoning was empathy in its purest form. Acknowledgment was soothing. Validation was restorative. Burdens lifted.
Then, I had an epiphany of my own that carried over into my profession as an advocate and public health communicator.
Cohesive, compelling communication that speaks to everyone is the tie that binds us to a common purpose.
Understanding the Underlying Need
Across America, families sit around the proverbial kitchen table, conferring about disruptions to their daily lives. Mitigation measures, masking, and social distancing are now part of our common vernacular. Parents grasp for clues to an elusive disease and struggle to untether the pandemic’s grasp on their futures - immediate and long-term. Work-life balance has taken on dimensions of magnitude previously unfathomable. Most pressing for many is ensuring children receive the schooling they need, they deserve. Simultaneously, it’s weighing and then pursuing vaccination for their septuagenarian parents.
In order to restore our collective will and to lift up those plagued by seemingly insurmountable burdens, we must acknowledge and validate these truths for one another. America’s families are craving and worthy of a heaping dose of empathy.
Positioning With Purpose for the Greatest Good
During times of crisis, clear, concise, consistent messaging is typically the craft of artful communication practitioners.
Responsible communication is the calming influence that assuages uncertainty. Delivering life-saving messages in the right way, at the right time, is the key to moving society to action.
And though we can all agree, there is nothing typical or predictable for that matter about this pandemic, the tried-and-true tenants of powerful, purposeful communication hold merit. Furthermore, each of us can learn to be compassionate communicators within our spheres of influence. Here are my recommendations for engaging in truly meaningful conversations with family, friends, co-workers, and employees.
Understand and verbally recognize that people’s plight is untenable some days, bearable on others. Despite the glimmers of hope shored up by American ingenuity and science, we all need to hear that our journey has, in fact, been a long and winding road. Yet, there is a clearing ahead, and we can offer one another encouragement along the way.
WRITTEN BYLoretta Lepore