Communications in the Field

Communications in the Field
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Communication skills can be defined as the skills used in practical life, whereby a person conveys ideas, concepts, or information to others. Another person, in turn, responds to that message according to his understanding of it. Communication is the act of transferring information from a person to another.
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There’s not a single vocation, job or professional position I’ve held wherein clear communications wasn’t a requirement. Carpentry? (Check.) Welding? (Yes.) Military antiterrorist? Cryptotech Operator? Computer & LAN repair? Cavalry Scout? C4I TacOps Center Technician? Field Radar Operator? (All military specialties, each required communications skills, often under stress.) Correctional officer? Patrol cop? Shift lieutenant? Defensive tactics instructor? Crisis negotiator? (Yes, if only for daily report writing.) Retail sales? (Definitely.) Safety management? (Absolutely.) Nurse? (Giving patient and family education is a requirement.)
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So, communications is a must for us all. Nonetheless, it’s surprising how few people understand it or how little they know about it.
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Communications is a two-way process. So, it’s not just about putting info out there. That info has to be understood, and then appreciated or relevant enough for the receiver to comment or ask questions (thereby offering feedback to the messenger).
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If you find that you put info out, but people rarely comment, it may be that your message wasn’t clear. That can happen with seemingly minor barriers in the process of sharing, like the modern common mistake of poor punctuation (or none). After all, a single misunderstood word on a page can prevent the whole page from being comprehended, which is why complex topics often require footnotes on the bottom of every page or at the end of every chapter.
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So, clarity is of paramount importance in sharing ideas. Even when speaking with people trained in the same field, it is crucial to use normal language and avoid jargon as much as possible. This allows both “old timers” who’ve been out of school for decades and new grads with new terms to communicate clearly and quickly, without unnecessary confusion caused by unfamiliar word usage.
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Now, that’s even in specialty fields. After all, as we’ve seen with computers, many new designs and related terms have been added to their parlance over the last 30 years. Yet, there are programmers and repairmen that started in their 20s who are still working into their late 60s.
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And, again, that’s just thinking of written and verbal communications. There’s so much more.
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Another potential barrier to a transmitted message in interpersonal communications is your body language and nonverbal or para-language cues. If your words and subtle gestures are incongruent, then your audience may not understand, receive or appreciate what you share. This is because 80% of what your audience perceives and responds to is actually unspoken. So, you have to control your nonverbals as much as possible.
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In police and military operations, we rely much more on “signal communications” and visual communications. Signal comms would include Morse code, subliminal frequency layering, and burst transmissions on timed rotating frequencies. Visual comms would be more like semaphore, coded flags, and hand gestures. As advanced as these may seem, they are often more clear than basic verbal comms specifically because there’s no tone, attitude or rambling verbiage to distract from the intended message.
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Unfortunately, before we can jump to the advanced methods, we have to work on the basics. Especially as online group members, we rely heavily on our ability to use words. So, as we communicate, slow down and remember what your purpose is for any sharing. If new ideas pop up as you are sharing, refrain from adding too much, as it may prevent others from understanding your intended message.
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As much as possible, keep it simple, clear, concise and concentrated on the specific topic and hand. Those are the essential basics.
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