Give information and you will get understanding

One of the roles of leaders is to provide accurate and timely information.  Sometimes the information to be conveyed can be challenging to hear and to deliver.   It’s not necessarily about taking away the pain that’s not the role of leaders, it’s about creating an environment through the provision of information for people to feel informed.  If it assists in the healing of those aggrieved then that’s great. 

Over a year has passed now since MH370 disappeared from radar never to have be seen again.  An unprecedented multi-nation search was initiated and now as time passes the one year anniversary of March the 8th, that search continues. 

Lost as a result of the disaster was the lives of the 239 crew and passengers.  For each of these poor souls on board there is a family that grieves the loss of their loved ones which is amplified by the fact that they don’t know what happened and they have never had the chance to bury their loved one’s according to their faith and their belief. 

The pain of loss is only amplified by the pain of not knowing and it can really only be understood by those who have experienced such loss themselves.  The communication to the families who suffered and continue to suffer from not knowing leaves many asking questions if it could have been done differently. 

So what can we learn from how the communication and information flow in challenging times?

One of the greatest learnings that I took from working in Bali after the bombings where the Australian team was charged with the responsibility of identifying and repatriating the 202 souls who had perished, was how to respond with those who had lost their family and friends.  The families wanted their loved ones and we stood between that repatriation process determined to ensure there were no mistakes, but that took time.  

The learning I took from spending time with the families was the importance of giving them accurate and timely information.  We couldn’t remove the pain or provide the answers they were necessarily looking for and it didn’t expedite the identification process but in communicating in the way that we did, we got their understanding.  

When you give people information you get their understanding.  To deny them the facts, denies them the opportunity to move forward.  Dealing with difficult conversations in the work place is benefited by honesty and transparency.