5/4/08

Over Communication

About a week ago, I was sitting on a plane ready to leave, when the captain came on over the intercom system. It had been raining fairly hard, and I assumed that he was coming on to inform us that we would have to wait on the tarmac until the rain started to let up. However when the captain came on, he did nothing of the sort and in fact did the exact opposite of what I had anticipated. I was reminded of several key communication concepts. The first was that, rather than leaving the passengers in the dark, he came on and introduced himself as well as talked about the current situation. Rather than letting those who can be discomforted by flying start to have their fears escalate by the current situation. He came on to explain what was happening. As the leader, he told the passengers what was going to happen before it happened. Thus when we hit turbulence, which was fairly often, he had put our fears to rest because we knew, anticipated, and expected it. However we would have been unable to do any of those things had the captain not initially informed us and continually let us know when we were about to hit a section of turbulence, how long it was going to last and what he was going to do about it. By over informing the passengers, and by continuing to control the communication, the captain guaranteed a successful flight. People were relaxed and he continued to keep control of the situation through his communication. Thus the lesson learned is that we must tell people 1) what’s going to happen before it happens; 2) remain in the captains chair by controlling information; 3) and sometimes in rough times, the more you communicate, the better.

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