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Clear Channel Markers Make for Good Communication

By Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, cEQc, The

So here I am, driving on wide, beautifully-maintained roads, seeing glimpses of ocean through tall pine trees - occasionally dense, always straight and orderly - and thinking I could not be farther from my hometown of San Antonio, Tx. If Texas is "God's country," there must be more than one!

In San Antonio, the scrub oaks grow thick and irregular and not very tall. The limbs are gnarled. They bend and twist. One wonders that they grow at all given the lack of rain.

The pine trees on the Florida Gulf Coast grow to the sky, straight and tall, and always look like some caring Johnny Pineseed took a plumbing line and planted them carefully 3.5 apart, then admonished them to "tow the line, stay straight and tall, stand and deliver. It's especially sweet to me to see the "babies." Evidently they're prolific and among the tall old ones, there are infants, toddlers, and teenagers learning how to become grown-up pine trees.

But what's this? Night has fallen as we head for a restaurant, and along the road are signs I've never seen before. They stand out almost alarmingly, in Christmas colors of red and green. They have only numbers on them. They are geometric shapes. They reflect the headlights in ways billboard manufacturers should know about. What I am looking at are channel markers people have stolen and placed ashore - a bit of Coastal mayhem.

My friend is an accomplished sailor and is introducing me to his world. When we walk at night, he shows me Sirius, and Orion with his belt. We search for the Big Dipper. He tells me to look at the Pleiades from the side of my way. Sailors must know the sky. It will always be there while instruments will not. It is a distant and silent world, and so is the sea.

So what are these channel markers? They communicate vital information to sailors under the circumstances peculiar to life at sea.

As the boating safety manual will tell you, there are many signs, symbols and markers on the waters where you do your boating. They serve the boater in the same way highway signs serve the driver. They provide information on where the "safe water or "channel is, and about direction and distance. They do this in three ways - by shape, color, and use of a number. These signs are "reflectorized - you get the message 3 ways, you get it loud and clear, and you get it without words.

And, historically, your average ship contained a captain and then - well, the crew -- men of action, back when everyone wasn't taught to read and write. The signs don't say "Ubiquitous presence of submarine obstacles." Nope. Just a color, a shape, and a number. Quick and comprehensible.

Don't you wish everyone would communicate with you so clearly - giving you the message in three ways?

In the case of the channel markers, if you are on a river traveling upstream, keep the red daymarker on your right (starboard) side. Hence the term "red right returning from the sea.

So, as you set sail on your various adventures, keep the channel markers in mind. Communicate in as many ways and as clearly as you can. It will keep you safe!

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ Mark Twain And communicate!

About the Author
Susan Dunn, MA Psychology, Emotional Intelligence Coach, I help people become better communicators and develop their emotional intelligence through coaching, Internet courses and ebooks. Susan is the author of "Nonverbal Communication."

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