Have you ever been in a situation where somebody has totally misinterpreted one of your emails? You know, completely got the wrong end of the stick. Its easy to do with email because there’s no tone of voice and body language involved. Meaning can be missed.
Tone of voice and body language can completely change the meaning of a message. Telling somebody “I really like your new hairstyle” could be meant genuinely or sarcastically depending on the facial gestures and tone of voice used.
Vital cues are lost
When we remove tone of voice and body language from communication, we lose vital opportunities to connect. Think of the difference in depth of communication between a text message and face to face, they’re worlds apart.
Make first impressions count
When a struggling employee visits your Mental health first aid portal in search of help, their first exposure to your team will be their profile, so it’s important that it’s presented in a way that allows the person to make an informed choice.
Dates from hell
Words written on a page can feel cold and lack emotion when not written by a professional communicator. They can also be misleading as people are often very different in the real world to how they come across online. You only have to recall stories you’ve heard about online dating where people’s dates were nothing like the version of themselves they’d presented on the dating website or app!
A match made in heaven
When it comes to selecting the person you think could help you initially when you’re distressed or experiencing struggles finding the right person is paramount. We don’t just trust anybody and everybody with our inner struggles, we have to feel an affinity in some way to the person before we proceed.
The more a mental health first aider’s profile can tell us about the type of person they are the better informed our choice can be. If we end up picking the wrong person due to a misleading profile we may decide to give up and lose faith in the service. Who knows where that could lead…
Light, camera, action!
A video is one of the most economical and effective ways of communicating our personality as it incorporates words, facial gestures, body language and tone of voice, all things that are missing (apart from words) in a written profile with a picture next to it.
If a picture is worth 1000 words how many words is a video worth? Getting your team and a camera crew together to record profile videos may seem like a big task, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Video profiles don’t have to look Spielberg-esque, and in fact in my experience the more amateur looking ones convey a sense of authenticity that highly edited and polished ones often don’t.
But let’s not forget, not everybody is comfortable being poked and prodded by a camera crew, so why not give your mental health first aiders 1-3 questions to answer then have them record it on their smartphone in their own time and send it over to you by WhatsApp or WeTransfer.com?
Let those personalities shine
So, just to re-cap, a video makes it far easier than a written profile and picture for a person to get to know whether a particular mental health first aider is somebody they could form a working alliance with.
The worst option is just a written profile, second best is a written profile plus a picture, but a video really ups your game. What we’re trying to avoid here is people making the wrong choice as your team might not get a second opportunity to help them potentially allowing the problem to escalate unnecessarily.
Hit that record button
So, have a chat with your mental health first aiders and see how they’d feel about recording a short (max 3 mins) video clip maybe talking about why they decided to become a mental health first aider and what they feel they bring to the table.
Most importantly, have some fun with it. The more fun your first aiders have the more relaxed they’ll be and the more of their personality will shine through, allowing people to make a really informed selection.
Mental Health Educator