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Learning to Listen

This information is for historic and reference purposes only.  Content has not been updated since the last reviewed date at the bottom of this page.
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Experienced emergency communicators bring a wealth of knowledge to each new crisis. However, every situation and population has specific needs. Responders who learn to listen to affected communities are able to more effectively communicate.

Active listening during a public meeting or community forum can help facilitate understanding of a community’s need and provide various viewpoints. Asking questions can demonstrate interest and prompt the audience to give you useful feedback. Although active listening is a skill that requires practice, public input can be critical in informing message development.

Media monitoring offers another way to recognize community concerns. News headlines and social media chatter can provide insight into what people understand and how they are reacting to an emergency. Responders can then respond to the information gaps they identify. Scanning these resources may also isolate rumors that need to be addressed with crisis communication.

Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) principles offer tools for understanding and responding to public concerns. Communicators who actively listen to community input are better equipped to develop effective public health messages.

For more resources and information on CERC, please see Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication, 2014 Edition or Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Pandemic Influenza, 2007.

Have you used CERC in your work? To share your CERC stories, e-mail Your stories may appear in future CERC Corners.