September 26 2022
By: Shawn M. Galloway
My wife and I were in Hawaii this year for Valentine's and her Birthday, which fall in the same week. After checking in to the hotel at our first stop in Honolulu, we wanted to explore the resort's amenities. As there were no apparent signs nor were we provided with a map when checking in, when asking a hotel staffer how to get to one of their offerings, he responded with, "Two doors get you there." I tried to inquire further twice, and he responded by repeating but with more sincerity. It took further probing to receive more precise step-by-step instructions, which appeared to frustrate him.
What is quite evident to someone with significant familiarity may not be to others. Imprecise and vague communication creates error traps that lead to the possibility of human error. One client, during briefings, asks members of the group, "Tell me what you heard me say." Another asks, "How do you see what I'm asking you to do?" Today, pay attention to all the imprecise and vague communication you witness. Communication traps are everywhere.
"Spiritual activity, education, civilization, culture, the idea are all vague, indefinite concepts, under the banner of which it is quite convenient to use words that have a still less clear meaning and therefore can easily be plugged into any theory." — Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
"The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said." — Peter Drucker
"To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others." — Tony Robbins
Shawn M. Galloway is CEO of the global consultancy ProAct Safety. He is a trusted advisor, professional keynote speaker, and author of several bestselling books on safety strategy, culture, leadership, and behavior-based safety. He is a monthly columnist for several magazines and one of the most prolific contributors in the industry, having also authored over 700 podcasts, 200 articles, and 100 videos. Shawn has received awards and recognition for his significant contributions from the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council's Top 40 Rising Stars and Top Ten Speakers, EHS Today Magazine's 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS, ISHN Magazine's POWER 101 - Leaders of the EHS World and their newest list: 50 Leaders for Today and Tomorrow, Pro-Sapien's list of The Top 11 Health and Safety Influencers and is an Avetta Distinguished Fellow.