When faced with an uncertain situation, an unsure person often looks to other people for guidance on how they should behave, or what they should believe. In this sense, uncertainty is the rocket fuel that activates and feeds the engine of social proof.
Just as many of us need to remember our bag / wallet, keys and cellphone when we leave the house, we now need to make sure that we have adequate masks for ourselves and our loved ones when we leave the house.
The announcement this afternoon that Auckland’s Alert Level will continue at 3, and the rest of New Zealand at Level 2 offers welcome certainty and stability for the short-term, which will help to alleviate some anxiety that people were feeling in the run up to the press conference in this whirlwind week.
With less than an hour to go until the Prime Minister starts her Press Conference to announce the Cabinet decision on Alert levels and further actions, here’s where the votes on my Twitter poll fell – over 1000 people participated in the poll.
If we take a moment to think through the drivers of behaviour like this, then we can see that yes, anxiety might be one reason why people go to the shops, but it’s one of many. And also, that this anxiety might be fuelled in several different ways.
If you are working in comms right now, be specific. Be clear. Be concrete. Double-check your information before you put it out – your memory might not be so great either – not your fault, that’s just how memories can be.
We have a limited window to get this right again. And it will probably happen again after this too. This will be the pattern. Be prepared. Take effective action. Do it now. React responsibly and swiftly, with small actions that added up can save us from suffering even bigger consequences.
When thinking about another outbreak of COVID-19 in New Zealand spread through community transmission of the coronavirus, it’s more a question of when rather than if. And at this point, we would do well to remember that aside from better technologies to detect the virus, the only tools we have are all based on behaviour.
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