A little empathy goes a long way

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 07.30.55For any executive the midst of a corporate prosecution is a frightening, exhausting and incredibly stressful place to be.

Your lawyer will be rightly focused on the forthcoming court case. Their advice is all about winning; afterall that’s what you’re paying them for. They’ll tell you what you can and can’t say and ‘sorry’ is one of those taboo words.

But you need to do more than just win. You need to emerge with your employees on side, your customers and suppliers confident in your business.

Winning’s essential but pointless if you lose your talented people, the goodwill of your customers and ultimately your reputation.

Every situation is different but there are three basic points to get across.   “We recognise your concerns.” “We’re taking the time to understand what happened.” “We’ll take steps to stop it happening again.”

And you need to do it without compromising any potential court case.

You need to convey empathy. If you show no human care you’ll look hard and mercenary. Before you know it there’ll be a campaign against you gaining support.

You need to be assured or people won’t trust you again. But definitely not arrogant.

Saying your systems and processes are robust and could not be at fault doesn’t project confidence; it just says you’re blinkered. “We’re working openly and collaboratively with the relevant authorities” implies confidence not arrogance.

Getting the words right matters, but it takes time and careful thought.

If the proverbial hits your fan, or is about to, give me a call.

[Image courtesy of Shutterstock.]

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By Cathy Connan

I'm an integrative psychotherapist. I help people invest in their wellbeing and live the life they want.