Boy, sometimes there seems to be an uninterrupted supply chain filled with crisis after crisis. Anybody remember when the defining crisis of 2020 was going to be the Australian wildfires? Doesn’t that indeed feel like another lifetime ago?
So many of us right now – especially in financial services – are going through a crisis. And it’s not the obvious economic one.
As someone put it to me recently, this is not WFH (Work From Home) – this is AHW (At Home trying to Work). We are all doing our level best to manage our professional lives, as we keep our family safe, fed, entertained and educated.
As in any crisis, you likely have an array of go-to resources to lean on in your personal life – family, a spouse, best friends, professionals, brands, colleagues, and even pets. They are your sources of calm and truth.
Anais Nin once wrote, “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” Our emotional safety nets are unique to us. The reason they comfort us isn’t because of what they do or because we see them as they are. It’s because they give us the ability to see ourselves in the context of a safer world.
We trust them.
Emotional safety, whether it’s for ourselves, friends, family, colleagues, or customers, doesn’t start with what we’re good at, what we do, or what we sell. It starts from within us. Providing emotional safety requires the awareness to know what others are feeling and the ability to feel it with them.
Now, from a business standpoint, acting on those feelings may not be what’s best for business, but rather what’s best for building trust. Those two things may seem different at times. In the middle of a crisis, it may be difficult to know which to choose. It may even require choosing different approaches for different groups.
Here’s one thing I am learning. Content and Marketing practitioners can become a great source of safety for brands.
I recently worked with a large, financial services brand that was going through a reputation crisis. The leaders decided to form a new team to create original content and storytelling to help employees trust the brand again. One of the keys to their success was focusing on and building emotional safety from within. They first created a team environment that allowed them to engage courageously, face tough facts, manage the crises, and see themselves as they were, rather than simply spinning the lens of the corporate brand.
Both the content they developed, and the culture they sparked, created an environment that improved trust among those within the company. It also stands as a model for other teams. They’ve become a safe place. We often think of safety as shelter from the storm – cover from a real or perceived danger. But building emotional safe places – whether they’re yours to shelter in or yours to provide shelter to others – isn’t cover. It’s more than waiting for things to blow over.
Sometimes, for your clients, your customers, your team members, you just need to be willing to be there.
The most comforting feeling of trust and safety comes from the belief that we aren’t alone, and that someone can help us move through the anxiety. They help not by waiting out the crisis, but by supporting us as we get through it.