Communication: We Can Work It Out

Campaign: Get to Know Human Factors

“Human factors refer to environmental, organisational and job factors, and human and individual characteristics, which influence behaviour at work in a way which can affect health and safety”.

Lack of Assertiveness, Stress, Lack of Awareness, Norms, Lack of Communication, Complacency, Lack of Leadership, Capability and Fatigue are some of the human related characteristics that can determine the performance of each one of us; these are the aspects which we will be focusing on since they can significantly influence the escalation or mitigation of a critical situation.
The campaign will address skills that are related to the cognitive, social and personal resource skills that complement technical skills, and contribute to safe and efficient task performance.

Panagiotis Kourkoumelis*

Think of what you’re saying
You can get it wrong and still you think that it’s alright
Think of what I’m saying
We can work it out and get it straight, or say good night
We Can Work It Out,
Song by The Beatles
When we talk, we take for granted that we pass our message, and sometimes we forget how complex it is or how important is to get our message across.
Communication is that powerful that it can shape one’s mind and thus can build or can destroy; it can convey all sorts of information and can express all ranges of emotions.

From our first minute in life, we are constantly bombarded by our senses and a multitude of information, which we process and try to communicate them. From the simple information that we are hungry – if only it was as easy as sending an SMS to mommy – to learning to talk just to pronounce the most valuable thing to us – mama or papa, depending on preference!

Then when coming of age, we find ourselves onboard, exchanging information with our mates to prepare for this big job that we need to keep ourselves safe.

It is certain you have examples where you talk with someone and seem to understand each other naturally and fit together. Your discussions flow interestingly and new ideas and enthusiasm spring effortlessly. And then there are people where discussions seem to hit a wall and it is impossible to get a simple message through.

There are many studies on how people communicate, but this is not a text about cognitive skills, language structure, semantics or nonverbal communication. This is a radio message in the middle of the Atlantic!

You see communication is like the radio onboard, it needs a transmitter and a receiver! Every one of us is both of them, like the station onboard.

When you receive a message, you might choose to ignore it, you might be obliged to respond or you might find it your seamanship duty to respond. Sometimes words come broken and can’t really understand the message, or even a strange accent makes it hard for you to understand and you might ask to repeat or to clarify.

To improve your communication skills and ensure you convey your message consider the below.

Before you press “talk” think:

  • What is the message you want to convey?
  • Is it going to be understood?
  • Whom are you addressing?
  • After you give the message do you feel (or see) you need to provide clarifications?

When you “receive” a message

  • Be prepared to listen.
  • Appreciate who is sending the message and why they are sending it.
  • What are they trying to say? If not straightforward, go ahead and ask for clarifications!

SIRE 2.0

In the past year, there is great fuss on the new tanker inspection regime – SIRE 2.0- and much information is passed on to the seafarers in order to prepare them.

To put it in simple terms SIRE 2.0 makes a transition from an inspection, the examination of the condition of the vessel, to an audit, where the inspector will interview crew members to assess how the crew understand and relates to prescribed procedures. So it becomes essential that all crewmembers, from ratings to officers, are able to communicate effectively to the inspectors the information they are looking for.

Therefore, working to improve your communication skills has a threefold benefit

  • Creates better personal relationships onboard
  • Promotes safety amongst your team
  • Ensures your great work effort!

Even in the most unconventional discussion, there is one rule that always works: treat the other person with respect and you will always figure out a way to get your message through.


Remember that the most engaging, effective communication is not when we simply express what we have to say, but to care about what the other person will take away from what we are saying.
If you were to take away one line that would be:
Make communication not just about you but also about others.

Thank you!

You can download this article in PDF format here

*Panagiotis studied Mechanical Engineering (BSc, MSc) at the University of Leeds and entered the shipping industry at the start of his career. Since then he has worked in various positions in the shipping industry, always with a view to safety, quality and developing the human element.
He is currently the Training and Development Manager of Kyklades Maritime Corporation.
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