INTHEBLACK November 2023 - Magazine - Page 46
F E AT U R E
This does not come naturally to everyone,
however. Vershaw has built a career on helping
businesspeople become more sensitised to
“Working in pairs, one person tells a story
based on a particular emotion, and the other
has to guess the emotion. By identifying and
labelling emotions, they start to understand
the behaviours that correspond to those
emotions and get more skilled at responding
appropriately,” explains Vershaw.
For people who have not learned to tap into
their own emotions, it can be hard to show
empathy to others.
“The default position in business is to focus
on ‘doing’ rather than ‘being’, but having a level
of connection with people in more challenging
times means showing up as yourself. That’s
quite scary for a lot of employers, but that’s
what it takes,” says Vershaw.
Vershaw gets managers and leaders to
rehearse their entire performance, as part of
what she calls “mental contingency planning”.
This is particularly useful in a crisis, such
46 INTHEBLACK November 2023
as when an incident could have an impact on
company reputation or is likely to attract media
coverage, she says.
Wearing the clothes they intend to wear on
the day and going to the actual room where
the meeting or announcement will be made,
Vershaw coaches them to prepare for different
stakeholder audiences. She also asks them to
imagine the faces in the audience and anticipate
a variety of responses.
“We run through the scenarios over and over
again; there might be two or three scenarios per
stakeholder group. This way, when a senior figure
goes to deliver the news for real, they can step into
the situation with more clarity and confidence.
Is there ever a right or wrong time to
communicate bad news? Herbert sticks to a rule
of good news delivered on Fridays and bad news
on Mondays – with sound reasons behind why
these days are appropriate.
“If people are left over a weekend to stew on
bad news, you have limited control over their