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Anxiety increases with new threats in the pandemic

Communicating in scenarios gets more and more inevitable



Threats that keep a constant pace decrease in their dynamics. That´s why the Covid-19 pandemic scares us less than in its beginnings – we got used to it in a way. Changes in velocity and acceleration of the pandemic, though, may lead directly to an increase in anxiety again and this has a negative impact on our performance at work, too. These are the conclusions of a study an international research team at the University of Oklahoma has published recently. Transferring them onto the current new stressors that means: the rampant new mutations of the virus, the slow implementation of the vaccination strategy in the country and the difficulties in planning the economic situation furtheron push anxieties once again and lead after days of respective bad news to emotional exhaustion and less engagement of employees. The researchers recommend leaders in politics and economy to focus in their communication less on the pandemic as such but primarily on the new stressors.

“Anxiety Responses to the Unfolding COVID-19 Crisis: Patterns of Change in the Experience of Prolonged Exposure to Stressors”, Fu/Greco/Lennard/Dimotakis, in: Journal of Applied Psychology, 2021, Vol. 106, No. 1, 48–61

From the practice:

When it comes to communication there is for me only one strategy how to cope seriously with unpredictabilities AND walk up to understandable anxieties of people involved: to present scenarios. My clients share their best experiences with the use of three scenarios  – two being rarely sufficient and four being confusing again. What sort of characteristics the scenario determines, how and why it has developed and particularly who has to do what if it occurs – these are the ingredients of professional communication in scenarios which helps to make diffuse uncertainty calculable. To communicate in scenarios is an approach for all leaders who are willing to stick to the options for actions each of their scenarios will bring with – regardless which one becomes reality. On the contrary leaders who don´t want to bind themselves to an agenda, leaders who prefer to decide and move spontaneously will go in a completely different direction: towards ad hoc-management and ad hoc-communication. Ad hoc boosts anxieties, though – that´s not only common sense but now – indirectly at least – also confirmed by this new study.

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