Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Victor Tango two-zero, turn left heading two-eight-five degrees until intercepting the localizer for runway two-two left, maintain two-five hundred feet, altimeter is two-nine-eight-four, cleared for approach, report outer marker to tower on one-two-four decimal five. 

Victor Tango two-zero roger, two-nine-eight-four, cleared approach, report outer marker to tower one-two-four decimal five, g’day.

VT20, LT 285, Loc, 22L, 2.5’, 29.84, Clr’d aprch, rpt OM, Twr V124.5

It’s funny how communication works and when you are in a profession you develop shorthand that makes perfect sense if you know it, speeds everything up, and confuses the heck out of everyone else.  The first graduate level course I ever took focused on communication and I can remember to this day the first lesson taught.  There are three components necessary in communication.  They are the sender, the symbols, and the receiver(s).  If any one of those components is faulty communication does not happen.
For example how many of the people who read this blog understood the first three paragraphs?  I, and most of the people I work with will.  The first is a clearance from air traffic control, the second is a readback of that clearance, and the third is a way to write it down so you can remember.
As we move forward with this grand experiment called America, I find it interesting to watch how our forms of communication evolve, but I still believe the fundamental wisdom of that first class holds true.  We see basic communication problems between generations, regions, and even different groups within the same region because we don’t have, or don’t use, a clear and unambiguous set of symbols as we interact.
How often we talk past each other as we attempt to transmit and not receive, we are so interested in pushing our points, our message, or our symbols that we never take time to listen to what is coming back at us.  In this sense we are like a bad radar set.  If all we ever do is transmit, and don’t interrupt ourselves we never see what is before us.  It is only in the reflection of our energy do we see the obstacles or understand what is important. 
 How about if we don’t understand the symbols we are using, or we choose to define our symbols in ways that are nonsensical? For example, if you correlate the wealth of success with insanity you immediately stop communication with people who understand that capitalism is a successful model for how American society is built and sustained, and if you choose to think those who acquire wealth are acting contrary to society you condemn yourself to a position where communication with them fails.  In that case, who is wrong?

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