I am not simply looking for views and reads by giving this blog piece that title. I sincerely think this topic is the most important aspect of group survival and preparedness. The topic is the ability to communicate effectively with others.
Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that survival and preparedness is simply a TV show or a hobby. While it is no more than that for many, the realism of a disaster preparedness event such as an earthquake, tornado or similar and the stress that go along with them will put many of us in a frenzy of activity to get important things done.
This is the reason why the military has ranking systems and you simply follow without question the orders of others. Under stressful conditions there is not time for such argumentation and discussion. You train everyone to do their job effectively and then you go do it under orders from others.
However what should be done for the rest of us? Those of us in families, prepping groups, or organizations in which that specific hierarchy of needs does not exist. That is where having good communications skills comes into play. I like to refer to it as the big C. I have worked as a challenge course facilitator for many years. As such it is our job to help organizations including military units, LEO, Fortune 500 companies and others improve their “Big C”.
Watch this video that mentions the 5 basic principles that I have been using for nearly 20 years now with great success in organizations I run, those that I work with, and those that I have taught through challenge course facilitation, martial arts and outdoor/nature awareness skills.
So let’s take a look at this from a survival and disaster preparedness situation. We are going to do this by utilizing a scenario that will help us to do so. Here is the scenario….
You and your children and some friends go out on a mild night to test out some gear and enjoy the great outdoors. You are surprised to find that it starts to rain and the fires you intended on building to help keep you warm are difficult at best to build and maintain. You make the best of it with the gear (tarps, blankets) that you have. The rain picks up. Two of the more experienced members of your party are doing just fine, those that are not experienced have trouble in the middle of the night and start to get incredibly anxious and want to leave….in the dark. You agree to do so as the leader of the group because you do not want people to be upset. After gathering gear and starting your trek out, you walk for a couple of hours and realize that you are not better off, and in actuality you are worse off. You determine to stop and regroup, it is determined that you should walk some more and after doing so for a short while you realize you have found yourself……back at your orginal camp, because you have just walked in a big circle.
I am sure you can get the picture from that scenario. Now lets take a look at the basic principles as discussed in the video and see how they could apply hear. Please note I am not going to try and fix the problems that arose in the scenario above or be critical of it…I am only considering the communication and leadership skills of those involved.
Basic Principle #1, Focus on the situation, issue, or the behavior and not on the person.
It would be easy to be critical of the decision makers in this particular group scenario and to get upset at THEM. If you do things will be said such as, “You are so stupid”, “You do not know what you are doing.” etc. That only serves to alienate the people in the group from one another. The better solution is to follow the first principle above so that the people in the group can come together. Better things to be said could be, “We have found ourselves in a bad situation here lets work through it together for a resolution”, or “Your behavior is putting us all in danger, can we all agree to work together or we may get ourselves in a worse predicament.”
Basic Principle #2, Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others.
I have used some basic ideas to do this for many, many years through martial arts instruction. That is I use a little PCP when I need to be critical of a person’s situation so as not to alienate them. PCP = Praise, Correction, Praise. What I mean is that quite simply some actions cannot be tolerated or continued in the scenario above or people will be injured or worse. So if some sort of activity is being done that will hurt the situation or others, give them some PCP. Here is how. Let’s assume for a minute that the two people that are inexperienced are having trouble because their tarp setup is not efficient. You could say, “Hey I like it that you have your tarp setup in such a way that is blocking some of the wind (PRAISE), but you cold have lowered it here in the front a bit more to capture some of the heat (CORRECTION), I want to commend you on your bedding setup though, that is really going to help keep you off the ground and a bit warmer (PRAISE). See how I used PCP there?
Basic Principle #3, Maintain constructive relationships
This primarily relates to relationships BEFORE a disaster sets in and there is no better time than the present to do it. This includes your family, those that your work with, those that you live nearby or simply your prepping group you train with. You need to continually work on your relationships with them so that when disaster strikes you already have a solid working relationship with them. Your family and neighbors are going to be your disaster preparedness group, even if you do not train with them. So make sure you have constructive relationships with them now.
Basic Principle #4, Take the initiative to make things better
I have never seen this in better use than when I had the opportunity to train alongside some gentleman from a special operations unit. We were on an outdoor trip together (I cannot say much more than that). T here was never a task that needed to be done in which one of these guys was sitting around doing nothing. If something needed to be done they were all doing it until it got done. Lets apply that to our scenario above. Let’s assume that our inexperienced group members are having trouble and not picking up firewood correctly. They are picking stuff up off the ground and all of it is wet. If you have more training and know better, then take the initiative to make things better. Go help them learn and actually show them how to accomplish their task. If you do using all the principles, feelings don’t get injured, tasks get done, and everyone is in a better place and working together. Don’t be THAT GUY who says, “somebody needs to……” if that comes out of your mouth, you need to get up and do it. Period.
Basic Principle #5, Lead by example
Another thing that I observed with my friends from special operations. They were a diverse group of operators and command structure level gentleman. Each and everyone of them were never above or below getting things done. Again that is the military though, what happens for those of us who are average ordinary citizens? Well there is typically a leader in every group dynamic, whether that person is appointed, or it is simply understood. So if you are that person, in our scenario above it would be the father of the group who organized the get together, then lead them by example. They need to see you getting things done, and most importantly admitting and working through your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, it is how we handle them that makes us a leader or not.
There you have it, the five basic principles. I hope you can find some sort of information in there to make you a better leader, whether you are leading a group during an earthquake, or dealing with all the holiday stress of the season…the five basic principles will assist you along the way. If you have any tips or questions, please feel free to post them in the comments section below.
Come on, join in, let’s learn together!