“Remember, under stress you’re not thinking clearly. So think about how you’re going to work through this ahead of time, so you don’t have to manufacture the chain of reasoning on the spot.”
Your body responds to stress in very specific biological ways; your brain releases cortisol, which raises your heart rate, regulates adrenaline, and clouds your thinking. When you’re under stress, you’re not thinking clearly.
Any communicator who has navigated a crisis knows, dealing with the fallout of these situations calls for longer hours, increased responsibilities, and lots of stress. Without planning and forethought, communicators risk making the wrong decisions during a crisis because of this heightened stress.
In this TED Talk, Daniel Levitin, a professor, author, and neuroscientist, discusses the effects of stress on the body and human’s decision-making process. He also explains prospective hindsight, also called the pre-mortem, a concept that originated with psychologist Gary Klein. According to Levitin, the pre-mortem is the ideal time to look ahead and consider what could go wrong. This foresight allows people to figure out how these negative outcomes could be prevented or how damage could be minimized, and it is a practice that could greatly benefit communications professionals as they draft their crisis plans.
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