Whether it’s between teams or between team members communication is key to a successful response. Communication being a two way process, is a saying that has become a cliche however it is a poignant point when looking at the flow of information during a response or disaster.
Below are some tips to help improve communication in your response team:
1. Don’t Waste Time
During a response time is precious, responders must ensure communications are focused and provide only as much detail as the recipient needs to do their job. This skill is worth practising during training exercises. The person receiving the message can practise ‘active listening’ by repeating back a summarized version or asking clarifying questions. If communications need a lot of clarification or need to be heavily summarized, teammates must consider focusing their messages and information.
2. Information Processing
People will have preferences and varying abilities, It’s worth determining which teammates process verbal or written information better and tailoring tasks to suits their aptitudes. During an emergency response a situation often dictates what type of communications are needed and used, however it’s always worth noting which team members are better at various forms of communication. For example you will want someone that is well spoken using the radio and a responder with good attention to detail and literacy filing incident reports. These are small considerations that can make a big difference. If you feel the need to improve your teams’ reporting you may be interested in looking at a new reporting method here.
3. Listening Confirmation
When communicating important commands or information, check for confirmation that your teammate is listening and engaged. If not in view check for signs of active listening such as followup questions or repetition of tasks. If not receiving any confirmation, it’s time to start being a little more forcefully by specifically asking for confirmation and repetition. It’s important to practice and look for these signs in training to avoid confusion during callouts.
4. Information Format
An important consideration is the format of your information. Teammates may prefer to process information in a linear manner or be more comfortable discussing an idea from multiple perspectives. Some may need facts and figures to connect to an idea, others may look for an emotional connection before fully engaging. It’s also worth considering if your teammates prefer to process information internally prior to engaging. Once understood you can try to adjust your communication accordingly. Asking a teammate who requires time for internal processing to engage on the fly won’t deliver optimal results and may lead to teammates feeling uncomfortable.
5. Context and Story
When delivering a point or message, that you feel must resonate with your team. Context can be a vital ingredient to getting the desired result. A nice method for increasing your chances of delivering the desired information is through story. The story can be a past experience, from a colleague or friend or even a movie, the important point is relevancy to what you're trying to communicate. The ability to put information in context and delivering it in a way that the recipient will be interested in hearing is a powerful tool. "Those who tell stories rule the world" - Plato
6. Communication Methods
Its important to provide your team with a wide variety of communication methods or channels. It’s essential to have the right tools for sending and receiving messages between stakeholders. The method used to communicate a message affects how accurately the message will be received. Channels vary in their “information-richness” information-rich channels tend to convey more nonverbal information. Collaboration tools such as Decisions [D4H] can help convey the desired information when responders are working in different places or at different times through allowing responders collaborate and share text or images.
To learn more about the features available with Decisions [D4H] Download an Information Pack.
Marc Healy - Head of International Business Development & Marketing at Decisions [D4H]