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Improved Communication Makes For A Safer Flight


I recently read a book about air safety that reminded me of married money. See if you agree.

In his book Outliers Malcolm Gladwell describes a problem Korean Air had with an excessive number of fatal crashes in the 1980s and 90s. During that period, their “loss rate” was 17 times higher than their American counterparts. By 1999, Gladwell reports that Delta Air Lines and Air France suspended their flying partnership with Korean Air over the issue.

An extensive investigation showed that at least one of the problems was the pattern of communication between the pilot, the co-pilot and their crew. Trained by their culture to display (by American standards) an excessive amount of deference to their superiors, co-pilots were reluctant to speak up when their captains were making a mistake – even a fatal one.

Gladwell described a series of communication styles used between superiors and subordinates in various cultures. From most dominating to most subordinate, there was the command (Do it), the statement of obligation (we need to do it), the suggestion (Let’s do it), the question (Should we do it?), the preference (I would like to do it) and the hint (I read a book the other day about somebody doing it).

News flash: husbands and wives often have very different communication styles.

My observation is that some people are born “feather people” and other people are born “2 x 4 people.” As the name implies, it takes very little force to get through to a feather person. But they can also be highly sensitive and require a very gentle touch.

A 2x4 person is the exact opposite. Communication with them requires directness and sufficient force to get through. Like a 2x4 whack right between the eyes.

If your spouse is a 2 x 4 person, he or she needs very direct communication that says exactly what you are thinking and why. Avoid being critical, but ask good questions, tell him what is worrying you and tell him that you are depending on him for cooperation.

If that doesn’t work and you find yourself stuck, I suggest you engage the services of a marriage counselor. Marriage counseling may be a wonderful investment for any couple.

My own experience is the male of our species is often reluctant to engage in marital counseling. We feel it’s an unofficial admission of failure on our part. That’s not true, but we can still feel that way.

So, wives, if he gives you backtalk on going to marital counseling, wait for the recording of this segment to be posted online, fast forward to this place in the program and press play. I’ll have a special message just for him:

Korean Air eventually turned itself around by completely revamping the way its pilots and copilots communicated. It’s back in the SkyTeam Alliance (with Delta) and has a spotless record since 1999.

Turnarounds and transformations are possible. Maybe the key for your marriage is communication.

Byron is a Certified Financial Planner and Managing Director of the Planning Group at Argent Advisors, Inc.
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