Should you deliver bad news in person?
I would argue yes.
Experts say that 70% of our message is carried in non-verbal communication, that is how we convey meaning without words. The height of our eyebrows, the position of our arms, the volume of our voice, even the rate we blink all carry important information about our message to our listeners. People believe the messages they receive from non-verbal channels more than the words they hear. Purely written communication loses a huge amount of information and is so easily misinterpreted.
This spring, the Cellcom Green Bay marathon was called off due to heat and a lot of runners were angry.
This spring many cities experienced unseasonably warm weather. The well-known Boston Marathon reported that just under 2,000 runners received some kind of medical attention due to the heat. My local marathon, the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, was at a red flag due to heat.
Unfortunately the organizers of the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon missed an opportunity to connect with their customers – the 51% of runners who didn’t get official results. Only a written statement appeared on their website, explaining their concern for runner safety.
If they were my client, I would have recommended creating and sharing a simple video from the race director, expressing regret for the fact that the weather was out of their control and that runner safety was, and is, their number one priority. And if the race director didn’t have the communication skills to express that perfect mix of regret, compassion and executive decision-making power, then find someone with authority who could.
It’s so easy to share videos today, thanks to smartphones and the variety of social media platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and via video sharing on LinkedIn) all businesses should be thinking of ways to maximize the delivery of their messages to their customers – not just 30%.