We can’t ignore the elevated tensions surrounding incidents of controversy that seem to grow in intensity each day. While your employees may be keeping their emotions under wraps, there may be times when those emotions erupt, causing unfavorable work conditions.

To assuage those reactions, your Crisis Team members need to know how to delicately communicate with staff during emotionally-heightened times, whether in response to a crisis directly affecting your work site or one that could indirectly impact your staff on a personal level. Use the following ESPEAK protocol (pronounce first with the letter “E” and then the word “speak”) to address the key points and behaviors your team should employ while talking with staff during and after a crisis:


  • Always begin with a statement of empathy. This sentiment shows people that you are trying to understand their position and feelings.
  • DO NOT tell them you understand what they are going through. Simply acknowledge that this may be a very rough time for everyone involved.

S—Start with the End

  • During an emergency, the staff may become frustrated with messages that are inconsistent or confusing. Be articulate and send a uniform message.
  • After making a statement of empathy, begin with the main points. Provide clear, relevant, and brief information.


  • Tell the staff why you are the one speaking to them. This act demonstrates a commitment to them that goes beyond the responsibility of your job title.
  • Show commitment to the issue throughout the whole process.


  • The staff will want to know what they can do to help. Getting the staff involved in assisting with the emergency response may decrease depression rates and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Ask the staff to take action by giving them something they can do during an emergency response.

A—Ask and Answer

  • You should encourage the staff to ask and answer any questions they may have during all of the phases. When answering questions, talk to the staff, watch their body language, and finish your comments by asking, “Does that answer your question?”
  • If your staff are angry, it is a good thing. Anger means they still believe that you can do something to help them.

K—Keep It Simple and Serious

  • Humor should not be used during an emergency response communication. Be serious and keep it simple.

For more ways to improve communications throughout crises, be sure your Crisis Team takes the updated Crisis Team Certification trainings located in the Knowledge Center, or contact your Customer Success representative.