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Ebola? None For Me, Thanks

If you want to know what’s inside something, just squeeze.” – Whitaker wisdom, date unknown.

Grow up in Texas and you’ll pick up any number of colloquialisms, parables, metaphors, and the like…sometimes, you even invent them. This one is a family favorite, passed down from my Pop.

On a related topic, have you heard about this #Ebola “thing?” Yep, thought so.

will there be room service?

will there be room service?

Here at “Ground Zero” (that’s Dallas to you folks) the E-word dominates the airwaves, coffee shop chatter, and my morning newspaper. A second health-care worker has tested positive for the disease after caring for the careless traveler from Liberia who brought his deadly virus to our town. Since we’re on the topic of “careless,” Dallas has proven that it’s not only West Africa airport screeners that are guilty of negligent behavior; the Keystone events at Presbyterian Hospital are shameful at many levels and include many people. Still, this radically negligent chain of events has resulted in exactly one death in the United States.

Influenza, as a comparison, has resulted in approximately 70,000 deaths in America in the last calendar year.

That’s a healthy disparity (pardon the pun.) But can we please maintain a bit of perspective here? Read this excellent article by Dr. Katz calling for similar restraint when considering the imminent danger to your person.

But the talk, the fear, and the hype of the moment is Ebola. We’ve been “squeezed,” and predictably, the collective panicked behavior speaks loudest to one truth – we cannot stand the unknown. Just as we reacted to SARS, AIDS, Bird Flu, and any other scourge that penetrates our bubble of safety here in good old ‘Merica.

We want (demand) certainty. “Guarantees.” Explanations. SOMETHING. Even at the expense of the truth.

I’m not trying to minimize the seriousness of a deadly virus; all things considered, I’d rather pass on Ebola. I’m trying to stress the need for a communication plan. The communication being disseminated in Dallas at this moment is akin to an employee rumor mill gone mad. The people with the platform to communicate (media) continue to inflame the situation by speculating (and sensationalizing) instead of providing useful information. Ebola is the boogie man we don’t know yet, so we take this information and run with it, oftentimes resulting in harmful consequences we have manifested ourselves – exactly how it happens in Corporate America; rumor is allowed to fester, informal communication takes the place of formal communication, a tough situation becomes complicated with emotion instead of fact. People begin obsessing rather than working, fearing instead of focusing, and generally creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. You want to be sick? Keep worrying, that should do it.

Remember, the universe abhors a vacuum – the lack of a responsible communication plan leaves the door wide open for hyperbole, rumor, drama, and hysteria.

The media is squeezing you right now…show them what’s really inside you & live your life despite the noise.

Talent Acquisition Executive, team-builder, and full-time dreamweaver. Creative Director, Content Designer, Writer, Speaker, Entrepreneur, terrible golfer, lover of The Art of War & Texas Hold 'Em.

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