The phrase “organizational crisis communication” usually refers to crises in political or moneymaking industries. Crisis, however, can occur at any level of interpersonal interaction.
Micro interpersonal level crises are similar to organizational crises. They are marked by a large degree of uncertainty, personal threat, and emotional turmoil. They also often require a prompt response.
Few people would argue that a death in their immediate family would cause a crisis. It is shocking, and it is a major disruption of life for everyone in the family. The communication among relevant parties of the situation can be difficult and risky.
Families are very sensitive organizations. Members are highly invested in each other’s lives. The list of stakeholders is surprisingly longer than one might suspect. Here is a general list in order of urgency:
- Spouses/significant others
Friends/acquaintances (yours and the deceased’s friends)
Work (your work and the deceased’s work):
- Business Partners
- Lawyers (yours and the deceased’s):
- Must contact others specified on any will set in place by the deceased
- Must communicate with other relevant legal actors
Banks, insurers, and other financial bodies:
- Must inform creditors
- Must communicate to pay taxes and bills
It is generally forgiven if a relative forgets to inform some people early in the crisis, but some people absolutely need early notification. A breakdown at any one of these levels of communication can cause emotional damage to a wide range of people. In addition, the people who must communicate are usually the people who are the most adversely effected by the situation. This does not make communicating easy.
A death in the family is an example of a crisis that can have a positive or a negative long-term effect on an informal organization. It can either serve as an event that pulls people together, or it can drive them apart.