Oct 26, 2009

Are You A Good Communicator?

Imagine this scenario, you get home from work and you find your significant other on the floor, face blue, gasping for breath. You call 911 and give your address as "6969 Dee" street. 10 minutes later, there is still no response, because the ambulance was sent to "E" street. By the time the error is corrected, it is to late. While this is an extreme example, it shows the importance of proper communication.

In the Nuclear Industry, we have used three-way communication and the phonetic alphabet for years. It is starting to catch on in other industries as well. When you have important communication to make, please use the human factor tools below to make sure you are successful.

Three-way communication

Three-way communication occurs when a message is spoken, repeated aloud, and then verified that the message was correctly received. When using three-way communication be sure to use the receiver’s name to get his or her attention; slow down and speak clearly; the receiver should repeat the message back to the sender in his or her own words; then the sender acknowledges the message was received correctly.

Phonetic alphabet

Many letters in the English language sound similar. The phonetic alphabet uses standard words for letters to limit confusion.

A = Alpha
B = Bravo
C = Charlie
D = Delta
E = Echo
F = Foxtrot
G = Golf
H = Hotel
I = India
J = Juliet
K = Kilo
L = Lima
M = Mike
N = November
O = Oscar
P = Papa
Q = Quebec
R = Romeo
S = Sierra
T = Tango
U = Uniform
V = Victor
W = Whiskey
X = X-Ray
Y = Yankee
Z = Zulu

Here is the example commonly used in human performance training:

Sender: “Dan, I am going into the primary zone.”

Receiver: “I understand you are going into the primary zone.”

Sender: “That’s correct.”

Everyone benefits from clearer communication. Try using three-way communication and the phonetic alphabet with co-workers and see what a difference it makes.


  1. i do the repeating thing with students often.


  2. It's funny, because we've all been through those times on the phone when you're spelling something out for someone, "No, S as in Sam."
    It's infuriating, but the effects could be so much worse in a 911 situation.
    I'm going to try this at work and see how it goes over.

  3. We do it all the time at work, the fork trucks are loud and the three way communication is the best way to make sure things are loaded in the correct dock door & trailer-when you have 67 docks in the building, getting the right one IS important..

  4. Wonderful. It makes so much sense. You do not know how many times I have to hang up to get my thoughts clear before I dial.

  5. A universally useful post. Many thanks!

  6. I like this; clear communication is so important. I grew up watching military movies with my dad, and I always loved the use of the phonetic alphabet in those films.

  7. Ken, it makes perfect sense. Using the phonetic alphabet and three way communication for phone calls could also clear up misunderstandings before they become a problem when you are conversing with someone you don't know on the phone.

  8. Yes, it really does make a difference. I think it also helps with memory. If you ask me to do something, and I repeat it, I'm more likely to remember it. But knowing how I am, I also write it down. LOL

  9. I like this.....
    one thing.....don't you think...for Z- Zebra is better than Zulu as Zulu is little bit confusing with Julu to other on mobile communication....regards vishal


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