A Lesson on Communication at 9,000 Feet

I am an Observer in the Civil Air Patrol on Search and Rescue missions.  One of my duties is to plan with the pilot where to fly in an area we’re searching. Recently I flew in a light aircraft (like the one in the picture) on a mission to take pictures of an area where a skier fell off a cliff, and had an interesting experience.

As the pilot described the Sheriff’s preferences for the pictures, he identified features in the melting snow to use as focal points. Three times we circled to look at the area but I still couldn’t understand what he was describing. Finally I suggested we take a picture and look at it on the camera LCD so he could point to the features.

It turned out my interpretation of his description was a hundred yards off in the wrong spot.  He clearly communicated to me what he wanted and I clearly heard every word. What we didn’t do was communicate clearly.

Communicating Clearly is properly conveying your message (idea, statement, command, order, directive, etc.) to the listener.

As you create training content, it is very important that you have someone review it to make sure that you have communicated clearly.  In the world of accounting education, this process is called a Peer Review.  The creator of training can get too caught up in their own interpretation and end up mixing up the trainee. That review is an extra step that is well worth the time.

Have a story to share where this happened to you?  I’d love to hear it!

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