Communication Lessons from the Deep

55 feet under water, I’m forced to change the way I communicate. I’m listening more and paying closer attention to the visual cues all around me. I caught myself more than once shout “ Hey honey, look!”. My honey, of course did not look. Intent on showing him the underwater magic I noticed, I swam over, regulator in my mouth, and gently touched his arm. A series of head nods and direction pointing was what was needed instead.


I’m on Roatan, perched on the second largest coral reef in the world. The last time I dove was 15 years ago. Breathless, I stuffed myself into my old wet suit with trepidation wondering if I’d remember how to dive. I convinced myself it was like riding a bike and a quick refresher was all I needed.


What I hadn’t taken into account was the changes needed in my communication style. On land miscommunication happens all the time. Just typing the word miscommunication makes me think of email!

Underwater, there’s little tolerance for it.


Practicing in the pool before our first dive this became very clear. My dive master gave me an OK sign underwater to which I replied with a thumbs up sign. Her grimace and shaking head told me I made a mistake. We surfaced. “JoAnn, OK means I’m OK and thumbs up means I want to go to the surface. Please get that straight otherwise underwater, we’ll have trouble.” I shook my head and assured her that I got it.


I’m thrilled that I jumped back in and had the pleasure of swimming amongst such beautiful graceful creatures. I also appreciate being reminded how uncomfortable it can be to change your default style. We all have one. It is necessary and possible though, with intent. I’ll be pondering how to pay closer attention and actively adapt to my ever changing audiences, when I resurface at home.

#Roatan #communication skills #spotted eagle rays




Communication is complicated.

Your approach shouldn't be.