Here Is a Great Way to HEAR Your R.A.D.I.O.

Posted by Larry Conley on Sunday, January 10, 2016 Under: Training
Here Is a Great Way to HEAR Your R.A.D.I.O.
-ISFSI Newsletter Article-

For those of you keeping score at home, this is the sixth read in the seven part E.M.P.O.W.E.R. model series. This article will focus on the last “E” which represents Empathetic Listening. Communication is critical for all walks of life especially in our industry of emergency services. Clear, concise communication can be the difference between life and death. As critical as emergency operations communications are, arguably the most important is the interpersonal exchange before the emergency. The mastery of Empathetic Listening will have far reaching benefits in personal and professional communication. Let’s discuss how a fine tuned R.A.D.I.O. will help you gain and maintain the quality connection needed to feed your interpersonal relationships.

Eighty percent of communication has less to do with what one says, and more to do with non-verbal conversation. Gestures, expressions and movements can offer a great deal of information regarding the context of the message being transmitted. When listening to what is said, pay attention to the volume, inflection and tone of the transmitter’s voice. All of these are crucial clues in helping adjust your listening frequency to the message. Empathetic Listening is putting yourself in another person’s shoes and trying to get the best understanding of their point of view. For an effective response, use your R.A.D.I.O. so the transmitter knows you understand. When my brother David and I present our personal leadership workshop, Empathetic Listening at times can be the most challenging to teach out of the seven principles of the E.M.P.O.W.E.R. model. David teaches the following R.A.D.I.O. method to cover some of the key components required to ensure effective listening and understanding:

Receive the information. Make sure to listen with two eyes and two ears. Gather as much as you can.

Acknowledge receipt of the message. Mentally check to make sure you saw and heard everything.

Discern the intent. Use context clues and body language, voice, tone, volumes etc., to discern the transmitter’s true message.

Interpret the message. Now that the message is becoming clear, decide what it means to you.

Output a message or return transmission. Reply with a message that shows you understand completely.

Use your R.A.D.I.O. to listen for understanding as opposed to listening for a break in the conversation where you can interject. Responding when frequencies are more aligned builds trust in communication. The transmitter feels a rise in their personal status because you cared enough to tune in. Our industry at times can suggest that rank equals status and therefore communication along these lines is effective enough. There can be a ton of quality communication lost in through this limited viewpoint.

Rank needs to be respected for experience and accountability, but communication among the ranks is stronger when we assign each other equally high status. When we don’t have proper status assignments, we fail to see the value of tuning in and putting in the energy to Empathetically Listen. Using the R.A.D.I.O. properly will help minimize our concentration on differences in background, rank, experience and personality.

The fire service is a diverse team today and these teams are required to serve our public proudly and professionally. The more we master the communication within our firefighting families, the better equipped we are to communicate with families of our communities. We embrace differences and turn them into strengths. We hear things in ways we may have missed because our R.A.D.I.O. was on the wrong frequency. Our response is better because now we have received and processed better information. When we seek to understand we limit misunderstandings. Next to human survival, the greatest human need is to be understood! This is a powerful need which should command our attention and encourage us to work towards better listening and understanding.

Today’s technology assists us in communicating faster than ever before. Email, text and social media posts are all forms of communication that, in the proper context, can save time and resources. However, electronic communications left unchecked, runs the risk of receiving a one dimensional message. One dimensional understanding can evoke an erroneous response. Fire team members range from baby boomers to millennials. Now, more than ever, we need to be mindful of ways to better understand each other.

The one thing we all have in common is our humanity. Behavioral health is the thread that connects all generations. With all of the creative ways to communicate, we shouldn't pass up opportunities for quality human connection. I’m happy that certain traditions in the fire industry help keep us connected, such as living together on shifts and participating in activities outside of work. We can use these opportunities to connect and build. Effective, intentional quality communication away from the emergency will fortify communication during the emergency.

The R.A.D.I.O. is a great tool to help with Empathetic Listening. It will help you become a quality communicator, personally and professionally. The practice is contagious. As you seek to find the frequency for clear communication and understanding, others will be inspired to do the same. When your interactions involve truly Receiving the transmission, Acknowledging receipt, Discerning the intent of the message, Interpreting the message or deciding what it means to you, and Outputting your own transmission in a way that illustrates understanding, your relationships have the opportunity to grow. The chances for greater behavioral health, team simpatico, and understanding across generations, are revealed. We can hear each other better and develop stronger teams, when we use our R.A.D.I.O

In : Training 

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