Communicating in the Military

Communication is vital to any organization. Each organization must

communicate, be it internally with its employees, or externally with

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clients, stakeholders, suppliers and the general public. An organization

whose employees have good communication skills both internally and

externally is better at providing quality service. Learning and perfecting

your communication style as well as knowing when to apply the right

communication style is the foundation of effective communication. Good

communicators must recognize that communication styles exist along a

continuum, and that 'gray areas' exist.

We each have a personal style of communicating. Your communication

style is simply how you interact or exchange information with others.

There are three basic types of communication. The Assertive

Communication Style basically allows you to respect the rights of others

while upholding your own beliefs and rights. When the Passive

Communication Style is used you put the rights of others before your own,

thus minimizing your own self worth. A person communicating in the

Aggressive Communication Style stands up for his rights but at the same

time he violates the rights the person with whom he is communicating.

Although it appears that the assertive style is the best there are times

when both the passive and aggressive styles will produce better or faster

I honestly believe that my primary communication style is the

assertive style but I also know that usually at least one or twice a week I

am forced to switch to either the aggressive or the passive style of

communication. I firmly believe each human has intrinsic value. I

especially believe that each soldier despite our cultural, racial,

education or other differences is valuable to complete the Army mission.

In order for us (the Army) to be able to fight tonight each soldier is

needed. I don't care whose idea we use to successfully complete our

mission just that the mission gets accomplished. Last year, as the

supervisor of a military pay section one of my responsibilities was to

electronically collect the rent from over 200 soldiers enrolled in the

Automatic Rent Collection Program from their pay and then to electronically

pay each landlord. This is a pilot program specific to Korea. We

experienced several different problems. Sometimes when we experienced a

problem I called a meeting, stated what the problem was without assigning

blame. I expressed my confidence in the team as well as my disappointment

that a problem had developed. I made it known that the bottom-line upfront

was that the problem had to be corrected and that I was open to

suggestions. We came up with a solution, then developed a plan and made it

However, there were a couple of times when we experienced a problem

that I used the aggressive communication style due to time constraints or

because I knew that a certain soldier was trying to get over. I yelled, or

stated how the problem was going to be fixed. My way was the right way and

I allowed no argument or discussion. I got into that soldiers face and told

him what to do, when and how to do it. I made it known that I was in

charge and that he had better shape up or plan on shipping out.

Sometimes when my boss came to me about some of the problems I would

use the passive communication style just to get him out of my office so

that I could get to work on fixing the problem. I would not make eye

contact just keep my eyes lowered, or agree with whatever he said even

though I knew he was wrong and had no intentions of taking his suggestions,

I would make myself sit still and speak really low, or best of all I would

Over the years in the military, I have supervised over 300 soldiers

from different cultural and ethnic background. I have learned a lot from

my soldiers regarding my communication style and realized that I had to

adopt different method with different cultures. For instance, although I

naturally tend to get loud when I am excited about something I have learned

to temper down my excitement and voice unless I am speaking with my Korean

soldiers who do the same thing. I have also learned that my Korean

soldiers don't like direct eye contact and that they get offended if I try

to maintain my personal space when communicating with them.

In the military we realize the importance of both verbal and non-

verbal communication. I work hard using my communications skills to gain

and maintain the trust and loyalty of both my superiors and subordinates.

I ensure that they know that I am always accessible and that no matter what

the problem, issue or concern I am willing to help or to get them the

Bibliography: Internet

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