Fire Fighting in Canada

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Comment: Words to choose by

February 4, 2020
By Laura Aiken

Communication means transmitting one’s inner dialouge and intentions to another. Sometimes our words emote little (I’m going to the store) and sometimes they are fully charged (I love you). Communication is about as integral to human life as concepts get. It’s right up there with all-around-us love. We think about what we care about and we are always sharing what we are thinking about.

True to homo sapiens’ form though, we are far from perfect at it. One only needs to go so far as the last time defensiveness riled the self for an example of one consciousness failing to connect with another. The common refrain “actions speak louder than words” is true but limited by circumstance. Words matter. If anyone wants to expel trust from a relationship, simply choose words that form a signficant lie. Mission accomplished.

But when we consider the weight of our words, we objectively know that much of our communication takes place with our body language. This limbic language loves to give away what we’re really thinking. We can’t underestimate how our choice of words is paramount in many situations today. Body language is subordinate in the transmission of radio communications, text messages and social media. Our choice of words in all these spaces is highly significant to how well we are understood. Thankfully, there are no shortage of resources out there on improving our ability to communicate with our body or words. We communicate about communicating a lot!

The February edition of Fire Fighting in Canada contains some real stand-out articles about communication. Trainer’s Corner focuses on plain language and the escalating use of abbreviations and acronyms in the fire service. Volunteer Vision looks at the importance of what information you choose to impart; how you communicate safety to new recruits and the need for communication to change to recruit more effectively. Norm MacLeod tells us about successfully transcending language barriers to impart training to volunteer firefighters in Peru. NFPA Impact delves into how the organization is making some of their standards more succinct and user-friendly. Leadership Forum is about how leadership reveals one’s true character, how your true self becomes seen through actions and words.

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I have spent much time on words here, and little on the basis for which the best words are often chosen: listening. The world is moving fast these days, and information is being produced at a rate never before seen on the planet. So many of us are thinking about what we need to say next, but the ones that are excelling at listening may be giving themselves the edge in today’s hyper-verbal reality.


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