The Ninth Commandment is to be an "Attentive Listener." Being an attentive listener may be the most important part of being a boss. The good bosses in the fire service today do more listening then they do speaking. The key word is attentive. To be attentive one needs to give his total attention to the person speaking. Should the speaker's communications need more clarification ask questions. My grandfather told me many years ago that I have two ears and one mouth, listen twice as much as you speak. Good advice! A key element however, is to ask for clarification whenever you need too, Commandment Eight.
This brings us to the Tenth Commandment, "Attitude and Body Language." You just read about being a good listener. That in and of it's self requires a good attitude; however, we can communicate to others by our attitudes. Our body language also attests to being a good listener. When someone rolls their eyes, they just communicated a negative message to the person speaking and others in attendance that saw the eyes role. Body language is another very powerful mechanism and when people really understand the power of body language, they can manipulate the communications. The person who shrugs his shoulders or waves his hands in a motion that indicates he could care less about what is being said, do you think he is interested? Then there are those that manipulate the conversation in another way, by crying. One may not think his body language has substance, but it may be more powerful than any words being spoken.
The bottom line is, if we want to be good leaders in our organizations we are going to have to work on our communication skills. These skills start by building on a solid foundation found in the above "Ten Commandments of Communications."
Russell Merrick, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, has over 30 years in the fire service and has been with the Rochester Fire Department since 1986. He has served as a firefighter, lieutenant and is currently a Captain that was ecently assigned to Special Operations Command. Captain Merrick is also an adjunct instructor with Monroe Community College and instructs students in Fire Protection Technology, Public Safety Incident Management, and Command Post Operations. Additionally, he been a Professional Information Program presenter at the Firehouse Expo, a presenter for the New York State Professional Firefighter's Annual Seminar Series, and a presenter for the New York State Association of Fire Chief's.