April 11, 2018
When it comes to firefighting, communication is extremely important, not just on the fire ground, but off the clock and at the firehouse, too. Fire fighters and paramedics face physical and mental struggles that other people don’t, so it can be beneficial to talk to someone about these challenges.
The question is, how are your communication skills? Could they use some polishing? There are several ways to tweak your communication skills to benefit others, especially your brothers and sisters at the station.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “I’m a good communicator. I talk to people every day without a problem.” But not all communication involves words. You communicate with your tone of voice and body language. If you’re sending a text or other typed message, be mindful of your capitalization use of emojis and punctuation. They can make a significant difference in how your message is perceived.
By improving your communication skills, you can:
If you have strong communication skills, it typically means you’re good at being friendly, initiating conversation, or talking to people in general. By showing an interest in those around you and asking questions, you can help them find comfort in opening up. This comfort level can lead to other positive interactions and outcomes. Even if you communicate with certain people only when you see them, it can still create a positive feeling of inclusion and make them feel valued.
After interacting regularly with someone, you can form a foundation of trust. Once there’s trust, your brother or sister — or anyone for that matter — will be more likely to reveal their personal struggles and be more vulnerable. They might tell you about their battle with alcohol or depression. You might learn that they’ve been dealing with PTSD as the result of a recent call. They might confide in you about problems at home. This trust goes both ways; you may find yourself in a position in which you want to share something personal with them, too.
Once you establish trust with someone, a friendship often follows naturally. This is especially true of fire fighters. Of course, communicating with your brothers and sisters at work is inevitable, as is the bond that’s formed over time. But by letting them know you’ll be there when they need help, and communicating with them even when you don’t have to, you increase the chance of a genuine, lasting friendship. Having a friendship like this can enhance your life and theirs. These connections can ensure that no one struggles with mental disorders alone, making these challenges more manageable.
Perhaps you find out that your brother or sister has been abusing painkillers, alcohol or some other potentially dangerous substance. Maybe the problem has been going on for months, and it’s starting to take its toll on their relationships, home life, job performance and finances. You might be the only other person who knows about it, or the only one who can help. With effective communication skills, you can explore the best ways to encourage your friend to seek treatment.
The IAFF Center of Excellence specializes in the treatment of mental health disorders and substance abuse, whether they occur simultaneously or independently. If you or an IAFF member you know needs treatment for any of these conditions, call today to speak with someone who can help.