Mindful communication in a pandemic

Mindful communication in a pandemic

Swati Rai

Writing, let alone writing mindfully could well be the least of our concerns at the moment, considering there’s a lot to be rightfully worried about at the moment. However, be as it may, those mandated with writing professional emails, as a requirement of the job, for them, it is well worth the time to cogitate about mindful communication, always, but more so now.

 Check your inbox to see how the language of the email has transformed gradually over the past one year. The jaunty tone of the chirpy greeting to the statutory sign-off of the past, will appear to be tone deaf and insensitive now. At a time when unprecedented and unseen pandemic has caught us all off guard, the way to a sensitise writing is a genuine concern, and the rest will follow. Here are a few more amongst other tips for writing mindfully, already in your kitty.

 Altered reality should be reflected in the writing

 Much of the communication is either a template or a rehashed version of the one sent earlier, many times over. But now a cognizance of the pandemic in mind, we should avoid blatant cutting, copying and pasting stock phrases such as, ‘Greetings of the Day’ or ‘Have a Great Day! Context has changed for the receiver equally and what episodes of bereavement, current state of health- both physical and mental health he/she may be facing, matter the most at this time. Also, with things changing rapidly and rife with uncertainty, the least we can do is keep the email short, expressing genuine concern and avoiding hollow platitudes, and most certainly not creating panic.

 Tone Matters

 Of course, we are so used to getting tone deaf mails that just off load their pre-written script, usually a PR or a marketing gimmick that we don’t bat an eye lid over, sometimes. However, privilege acknowledgement at such a time will go a long way in cementing client service provider relations, as well as providing genuine succour to the reader by creating a feeling implying ‘we are all in this together.’

 Giving hope and comfort shouldn’t make the language trite and forced as that may come across as worse than concern. ‘Stay safe’, long thought to be a sign-off expressing concern, may create panic as we don’t know if the person at the other end is already fighting the dreaded disease or if a family member is afflicted, causing increased anxiety.

 Sender-receiver relation

 A lot of your language of greeting and sign-off will depend on the relation that you enjoy with the receiver but largely speaking, this isn’t the time for crass humour or forced wit with sign offs like ‘Stay socially distant’ or ‘hand-washingly yours’ or more innovative ones like ‘Have a great socially distant day,’  ‘Sent from my Dining room,” or sending ‘virtual hugs’, might work for personal emails or better still, texts, to very familiar people in the social circle.

Of course, no substitute for good grammar and sensitised language still. Avoid convoluted greetings like ‘Hope you are doing good and safe’, or, ‘Hoping my mail finds you with good Physical and Mental health.’ Also, the ones that straightaway play up those Pandemic anxieties like ‘Hello! With the Covid pandemic playing havoc in our lives, do hope you are staying sane…’ Or the staccato usual banalities like ‘trust this finds you in the best of health and spirit.’ or worse still, simply old worldly-‘Greetings of the Day’

 Human touch and tenor

 A more personalised touch, depending upon the relation shared between the sender and receiver such as ‘Hello. How you and your loved ones are doing okay as we go through these tough times.’ Or asking for a reply by saying ‘Please reply at your leisure’ rather than ASAP or at the earliest. A suitable variation of these would depend on the hierarchy, professional relation and expected outcome of the mail. Surely, half a minute could be spent on changing the word choice to alter the tone sensitively. Greetings and sign-off that acknowledge the situation without faux concern.  ‘We’re here for you’, ‘We’re in this together,’ may be a good fit in varied contexts.

 Being business-like and going about one’s business as usual using business-speak phrases will not cut it any longer. One size doesn’t fit all and that we can show our human side in making our writing more deliberate, thoughtful and contextual is the need of the hour. Cogent, coherent, cohesive and now compassionate, added to the hallmark of great writing owing to its mindful quotient in tough times of the pPandemic.





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