As we begin to understand the
significance and meaning of color in crisis, we will see that our mood or color
is an extremely important dimension of crisis communication. We are familiar with such expressions as The
life of the party, Laughter is
contagious, and others suggesting that our mood has the power to affect or
infect. People in crisis may cause us to
feel angry, anxious, depressed, indifferent, and so on, affecting our mood by
the power of their own. The converse is
also true. Our mood or tone has the
power to affect or influence the mood of the individual in crisis. For example, if we respond to anger with
anger, the person in crisis will tend to become even more angry. If we respond to anxiety and fear by becoming
anxious and fearful, the person will tend to become even more anxious and
afraid. If we respond to the immobilized
mood of a black crisis by becoming emotionally immobilized ourselves, it will
have the effect of making the black crisis even more black, to whatever extent
that is possible.
Our mood or color is, then, an
important dimension of the crisis intervention process and is an important
aspect of crisis communication. If we
know that anger begets anger, it is important for us to respond to a yellow
crisis in a concerned but thoughtful manner.
If we know that depression begets depression, then it is important to
respond to a black crisis in a friendly, interested, somewhat happy way. Since we know the kinds of mood or tone that
tend to exacerbate or irritate various kinds of crisis situations, it is
important for us intentionally to avoid making matters worse. We do this by consciously and caringly
controlling our mood or color in a way that has the best and most desirable
effect on the person in crisis.
Our response to a crisis should
always be in shades of blue, that is, we always want to convey a mood of
calmness; a sense of control; a feeling that we understand, care, and will be
able to help the individual resolve his crisis.
Our response to crisis is never yellow.
There is a rule worth remembering: In crisis situations, there is room
for only one person to be anxious or afraidand that person is not you. Your mood is blue; it is calm and
calming. As the individuals anxiety,
fear, apprehension, and confusion in his yellow crisis is filtered through your
blue screen, the individual will calm down, slow down, and begin to think more
clearly and plan ahead. Similarly, your
color is never red. Anger pushes people
away, makes them more agitated. A quiet
blue from you will gradually slow down and calm down the individuals
anger. By adopting a blue mood, you can
gradually absorb and refocus the individuals anger and frustration. It is unlikely that an individual will strike
out at someone or something if you quietly and caringly let him get out his
anger and indignation. Blue takes the
red out of crisis.
It is always a dark blue for a
black crisis. One of the few absolute
rules in crisis intervention is that we never, never respond to a black crisis
with red or yellow. The individual is
quite slowed down. The now potential is
that he may just stop altogether. We
must realize that he is almost motionless and hypersensitive to emotions in
others. In a black crisis, we must start
with a mood or color very close to that of the individual in crisis. From there, we gradually and very tentatively
lighten or change our mood to a lighter shade of blue as the individual begins
to come out of his black crisis. A dark
blue mood on our part must be very gradually lightened, all the while remaining
sensitive to slight changes and fluctuations in the mood of the individual. Responding to a black crisis is a very slow,
gradual process that requires our extreme patience and sensitivity.
Crises, then, come in red, yellow,
and black; our response comes in carefully and caringly controlled shades of
blue; however, it may help to think about what mood or tone our words
communicate. For example, to say to a
child, Thats horrible, communicates a somewhat different tone than would be
conveyed if we were to have said, Thats not very good. If we say to our spouse, Why in the hell did
you do that? we have communicated a
different feeling or mood than would have been conveyed had we said, What was
your thinking when you did that? It may
be helpful to practice listening to the things people say and listening to the
mood or tone communicated by the specific words they use. As you read the phrases and sentences below,
consider the mood or tone communicated by the words.
That was a dumb thing to do.
That may not have been your best
Youre acting like a raving maniac.
You seem really angry.
You seem like death warmed over.
You seem really depressed.
Youre sure acting crazy.
You dont seem like yourself today.
I dont know whats wrong with you,
but youre going to have to get yourself straightened out.
Im worried about you. Can I help?
Understanding the impact of your
words and wording and seeing that they, by themselves, convey a mood or tone
will increase your ability to convey a blue mood to people in crisis and will
increase your effectiveness in crisis intervention.