Donovan Group Insights

Meet Concern With Optimism Wherever Possible

Incidents occur from time to time in every district. After a while, you learn how stakeholders react to different negative situations. Some might be angry, while others might be wary. The question is, how will your district react?

Your communications should set the tone for how you want stakeholders to feel. Just because you’re worried or fearful doesn’t mean your communications should be, too. Words have the power to turn concern into optimism!

Anticipate how stakeholders will react

An incident just occurred at one of your schools. You’ve been in this position before, so you know exactly how parents, staff and community members are going to respond. Depending on the incident, their initial reaction might be concern, anger, wariness or all of the above. Understand how stakeholders react to certain situations, so your district can communicate appropriately.

Stakeholder reactions determine how you’ll set the tone in your communications. If they’re concerned, use a tone that puts them at ease. If they’re angry, use a tone that helps them stay calm and cool. Even if you’re angry or worried about what happened, stakeholders need a district that emulates strength, unity and confidence. Allow these traits to shine through your communications.

Stay optimistic in your communications

Your district has the power to influence how stakeholders think and feel. By setting the tone appropriately, you can turn worry into reassurance and anger into acceptance. District leaders must be able to put personal feelings aside and promote a strong image for the sake of the community. Optimistic communication can inspire optimism in others. Confidence encourages stakeholders to feel confident. It all comes down to your words!

Anticipate stakeholders’ reactions, then communicate as swiftly as possible. When districts delay their communications, stakeholders have more time to form their own thoughts and feelings about the situation. A lack of communication can inadvertently give anger and fear room to grow. The earlier you set the tone through communications, the easier it will be to influence people’s perceptions of the incident.

People look to their district for guidance. Whether they’re feeling angry, concerned or fearful, stakeholders are still curious to hear how you’ll respond to the situation. The tone of your communications is key to making it through negative incidents as a unified community. And the sooner you set that tone, the better.

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