Free Resources: PDF Transcript | Quiz Hi! It\u2019s Tim Simmons here with another edition of Business Skills 360. I\u2019ve been listening to the current series on handling a crisis, and I just wanted to jump in with a couple of important points on the language we use in a crisis. We\u2019ve heard some folks dealing with a pretty serious crisis: an accident at a factory. And maybe you\u2019ve noticed how some of the people are quite careful about the words they use. Careful is important. You see, a crisis is a sensitive situation. Emotions are running high and people are on edge. There is the potential for conflict if you do or say the wrong thing. At the same time, the clock is ticking and you may not have time to manage everyone\u2019s feelings. For these reasons, you have a very fine balancing act between being diplomatic and being direct. What do we mean by being "diplomatic?" Well, diplomatic language is polite and careful. We use it so people don\u2019t feel offended or get upset. Let\u2019s see how this works in practice. Imagine you need to tell your boss about a bad accident. Do you say \u201cThere\u2019s been a bad accident?\u201d You could say this, but it\u2019s probably too direct. To cushion the blow, you could say something like \u201cIt seems that there\u2019s been quite a bad accident.\u201d How is this more diplomatic? Well, it starts with \u201cIt seems...\u201d That\u2019s an indirect way of introducing something. \u201cPerhaps\u201d and \u201cmaybe\u201d are other common ways to do this. Or you can use \u201capparently,\u201d like this: \u201cApparently there\u2019s been quite a bad accident.\u201d Now, the other thing you heard there is \u201cquite,\u201d as in \u201cquite a bad accident.\u201d That\u2019s a minimizing expression. It makes the situation sound not as bad as it really is. We do this when we say things like \u201cthis problem is rather urgent\u201d and \u201cwe have a slight problem.\u201d Just by adding words such as \u201cquite,\u201d \u201crather,\u201d \u201cslight,\u201d \u201ca little,\u201d and \u201ca bit,\u201d we can be more diplomatic. Okay, another way to be diplomatic is by using questions. Imagine you think someone made a lousy decision. You could say \u201cYou made a lousy decision.\u201d But chances are that person is going to react negatively, so you should be diplomatic. In this case, you can use a question, like \u201cAre we sure this is the right thing to do?\u201d Or maybe you think someone is trying to decide on a course of action too quickly. You could say \u201cWouldn\u2019t it be better to talk about this a bit more?\u201d Questions, especially ones starting with \u201cwould\u201d and \u201cwouldn\u2019t,\u201d are more diplomatic than direct statements. Okay, but do we want to be diplomatic all the time? Definitely not. Diplomatic language can be rather indirect. And for that reason, people might not understand just how serious we are. Sometimes we need to convey a sense of urgency or give very clear instructions. In these situations, we need to be direct. Imagine you\u2019re having a head-to-head with an employee after a big accident, and you don\u2019t want him to talk to the media. You could be diplomatic and say \u201cIt might not be a good idea to talk to the media.\u201d But that\u2019s not strong enough. In this case, you should be direct and say, \u201cDon\u2019t talk to the media.\u201d This is what we call an imperative, which is a sentence with no subject. We use them for commands, like \u201cFix the problem\u201d or \u201cTell me what happened.\u201d Imperatives are direct, not diplomatic, which is exactly what you need here. Direct language is also essential when you\u2019re giving instructions, which need to be clear, especially in a crisis. Imagine you want an employee to inspect some machinery, repair any problems, and then file a report. Do you start with \u201cMaybe we should have a little look at that machinery\u201d? Is that clear? That sounds like you\u2019re thinking out loud. The person who hears that may or may not do it. In a crisis, that\u2019s asking for trouble. You need to be clear and say \u201cFirst, inspect the machinery. Then fix any problems you find and file a report.\u201d No diplomatic language like \u201cmaybe\u201d or \u201clittle.\u201d The instructions are perfectly clear because they\u2019re direct. So, when should you be diplomatic and when should you be direct? Well, you really need to assess the situation and determine which is best. Diplomatic language can protect people\u2019s feelings. It can also avoid conflict and build trust. Those can all be very important in a crisis, when everybody needs to be on board with a plan. On the other hand, direct language can show a sense of urgency and seriousness, and it can prevent confusion. Those are also important in a conflict, when things must happen quickly and misunderstanding is just not an option. Remember that to be a good crisis manager, you need to adapt your style and strategy to the situation. You can\u2019t have a one-size-fits-all approach to the language you use. That\u2019s all for today. If you\u2019d like to test yourself on what we\u2019ve just covered, have a look at the myBEonline.com website. There you\u2019ll find a quiz about today\u2019s show as well as a complete transcript. Next week, we\u2019ll return to our podcast series on managing a crisis. Listen carefully to how the people use both diplomatic and direct language. So long, and see you again soon.