Crises are stressful. They are characterised by the speed of activity and time-pressured decisions, lack of clear information, and high stakes that can mean life or death, or the survival of your business. There will be noise coming in from all sides, potentially intense media and public interest and you will often be called upon to act above and beyond your comfort zone and day-to-day responsibilities.
As a result, crisis centres are often a noisy, tense and scratchy location where no-one is actually listening to anyone else, let alone listening to the clamour beyond: from staff, the public and the media at large.
Listening is one of the greatest skills any crisis leader can have. Hearing what is being said, what is behind the words; picking up on nuance and trend; hearing the silence or the cacophony, and hearing it growing or the tide turning. The rise of social media means that public sentiment can be monitored like never before and crisis teams should take full advantage of this with regular reports from the social media team.
Too often crisis teams fail to really listen to what is around them and miss the mood, the swing of views or simply the scale of noise.