Is Communication Emergency Management’s Most Important Skill?
The thing that makes us stand out in our career field is often times nothing more than our power to communicate. If you cannot talk about your efforts to others in a way that is both disarming and informational, you probably are not long for this career. It is true, we may get mired down in the details of emergency management and start looking in other areas for answers, but it’s not enough. We would like to think it is more about our hard work, our honesty, or other things, but it’s actually just good communication.
While good communication does not necessarily come naturally, good communications does create a number of deliverables that can help us be more effective.
Good communication allows you to create a single message that is not misunderstood or misinterpreted. When you can share your message properly, people understand it better. If you are trying to communicate evacuation methods, the clearer the message, the better. Our senses are easily overwhelmed by too much information or too many details.
You cannot bring people around you and have them support you without a clear message. Quality messaging can create teams that are all moving in the same direction, with a common vision. It is impossible to be successful with you are heading in one direction and your "support system" in another, stuff will not get done. The saying, “Many hands make light work” is not just a cute saying, it is a truth in the EM field.
Quality communication helps stamp out conflict. When people are good communicators, they listen well and do not overreact. This helps reduce and prevent conflict. Emergency Managers who are able to listen to the issues of others without becoming defensive, accusatory or otherwise negative, are always going to be more successful than those who cannot.
We live in a communication age and it’s time we start taking it seriously. Communication is one of the most important skills for today’s emergency manager.