It’s natural for senior leaders to clam up when faced with a Risk Communication situation. Here are some tips to help them open up.
1) Know the Concerns
After you’ve identified who will influence the decision to communicate, understand that what’s going through his/her mind at that moment.
Denial is a natural human reaction during these situations. (Ex: If we don’t draw attention to it, the problem may go away on its own)
S/he may be faced with pressure from others to avoid the situation or may not want to cause panic / unnecessary concern.
2) Meet 1-on-1
Meeting in private increases the chances that you will both be able to express yourselves effectively.
Arrive at the meeting with your message deployment plan. Who gets told what? When? And in what sequence?
Have your draft Q&A ready – even if the answers still have a lot of blanks. This helps your senior leader see that your approach could be helpful, not harmful.
3) Trust Takes Time
If it doesn’t seem to work, keep (gently) working on the relationship. Don’t give up.