From Defcon 1 to Defcon 4 – Talking Your People, Customers, Clients and Yourself Down from Fear and Panic

We may have nothing to fear but fear itself, but keep talking to us

In less stressful times, people are able to listen to you, have you talk to them and they’re able to more or less follow through on at least some of what you say.

In scary times like this, people shift from listening to over to listening for something from you that will help them feel safer. 

If you merely talk to them – and please don’t talk at them – they will quickly be like deer in the headlights. At that point they will lose their ability to listen, comprehend, understand or follow directions that have more than three steps (geez, even on good days I can’t remember more than three steps when I ask for directions, but thank God for Waze).

This is because when people shift from stress to distress their minds start to cross over into a fight/flight or freeze survival mode.  With most people staying at home and with few oultlets for their anxiety (sports, restaurants, etc) and with few skills to talk with each other from an emotional and very vulnerable position of fear, they move more to the freeze state of mind than the fight or flight.

The problem with being in the freeze state is that over time – and it doesn’t take too long – they cross over into feeling brittle, then fragile and then as if they could snap.  This may explain the rise in domestic violence in families who are stuck in the same house without their usual outlets.  They begin snapping at each other… and worse.

So what is it that your people, customers and clients are listening for?

It’s essentially five things, but do feel free to modify to what you believe to me more accurate.

  1.  Are we going to get through this?
  2. What do you predict is going to happen in the next 24 – 72 hours?
  3. What are you going to do to help us safely get through that?
  4. What specifically do you need us to do and need us not to do so that you can help us make it through?
  5. Will you keep communicating with us daily, because we understand how rapidly things change and silence makes our imaginations think the worse?

Having answers at the ready to those questions will help everyone realize we will not only get through this, but that we already are.

I’m certain I’ve missed some points.

What are you listening for?

If you are a CEO and would like assistance in figuring out talking points in speaking to your people, customers or clients I am offering a free, no obligation 60 min zoom call to you and/or your executives to help you get through this time. Just contact me at: We’re all in this together.

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