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Lift off – four steps of non-spoken communication

You might know that I’m an enthusiastic, but not always coordinated, skier.  The next few blogs will be on a skiing theme – some, but not all, related to business. This series of three blogs will look at: being brave in skiing and business; some top tips to travelling by bus; but first… communication – specifically how we do something as simple as ride a chairlift safely.

Having spent decades in communication, it never ceases to amaze me that non spoken language is just as important as that said or written.

So a smile, a wave, a shrug, a scowl – these are all totally understood, regardless of the nationality – and we come to our conclusions about what the person means.

In particular, there is a non spoken cooperation, which I particularly like, that takes place on a six man chair lift. Imagine it. 6 people, on a bench – no eye contact, all with helmets, scarves and a range of  unwieldy footwear…. and we have to manually lower the safety bar over our heads to secure us all. Making sure no one has parts of their anatomy pinned in the wrong place, that everyone can put their skis on the footrests, that no heads are clonked in the process. And all this usually at several metres off the ground, being whisked along. And then the reverse process, usually when we are considerably higher off the ground. Rarely does anyone utter a word, and it’s a process that just works. I bet most people don’t even think of it at all, it happens so smoothly.

So what’s going on? Well, it’s a classic case of good management. We all:

  • understand what’s needed
  • appreciate our role in it
  •  can see the benefits – both personally (ie. not falling out) and as a group (ie, lift isn’t held up)
  • have an awareness of the people around us and their needs (ie. children are looked after, sometimes there is an ‘ok?’ or ‘ca va?’ mumbled.

And it works.

So if you have some internal communication issues – bear in mind the ‘skilift cooperation’ model – and you shouldn’t go far wrong.



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