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Working Together Effectively



Become more aware of our interactions and learn to improve them.

Personality Traits

Ineffective Teams (More Errors)​

Communicate Less

Negative Communication

Response Uncertainty

Frustration or Anger


Lower incidence of agreements

Effective Teams (Fewer Errors)​

Fluent Communication

Frequent, direct, open concise

Options openly discussed

Effective leadership

Task delegation with clear direction


Contingency statements

Atmosphere open to suggestions

Effective Communication

Hidden Agenda

This trap involves a lack of communication. A person with a hidden Agenda is giving advice and/or making decisions based on information or reasons not communicated to others.

It is typically done to prevent objections and confrontations, perhaps following a decision to deviate from policy or regulations. It may also be the result of a desire to achieve a goal for personal reasons. In any case, it is a very serious situation that is difficult for anyone except the person involved to detect.





The Assertive Statement

Many employees are in the nonreactive mode. Through years of experience they have learned that their ideas are not taken seriously or may even get them in trouble, so they don’t speak up; or they may be trusting that other employees will take care of a problem. In either case, this is a very dangerous situation as critical issues can be missed and serious errors may occur that might have been avoided.


There usually is no problem with simple data transfer, as long as everyone agrees with the information. The problems start when someone makes a suggestion. Even though the suggestion may be presented in a straightforward manner, it can be perceived as criticism, which in turn can lead to confrontation and conflict.

Criticism, confrontation, and conflict, whether real or perceived, are not beneficial, leading people to put up walls and resulting in a general breakdown of communication. Fortunately there is an Error Prevention tool called the Assertive Statement that is a non-threatening, respectful way to make sure the information gets across without offending anyone or leading to confrontation or conflict.

Levels of Assertiveness

The Assertive Statement is a simple 5-step process:

1. Opening - Get the person's attention. Say their name.

2. Concern - State your concern or emotion. "I'm uncomfortable..."

3. Problem - State the problem, real or perceived.

4. Solution - Offer a solution if you have one. "I think we should..."

5. Agreement - Obtain agreement. "What do you think?"

Assertiveness With Respect

It is important for team members to respect and support the authority of the PIC while assertively communicating suggestions and/or problems they are aware of.



Sterile Workplace Rule

This rule prohibits non-operational conversation during certain critical phases of an operation. It is important to establish your own sterile workplace parameters and to determine what terminology will be used to implement a sterile workplace. Some companies are using green, yellow and red cards. Be sure to note on the yellow or red card when you will be available.


It's ok to interrupt me if you have a question

or need help.


I'm at my limit, so don't distract me unless it's very important.


I'm at my limit, so don't distract me unless it's very important.

Excessive Professional Courtesy

This refers to our hesitancy to point out deficient performance in others. For example, someone may observe a potentially dangerous situation, but not say anything, or understate the seriousness of the problem by saying that there is a “little problem.”


This tendency becomes even worse when there are large differences in rank or experience. In most business crises, one or more people were aware of the need for corrective action, but failed to assert themselves. It is critical for leaders to set the proper tone and then back it up through their actions. Leaders must insist that they be challenged positively and assertively any time anyone sees a potential problem or error.


Copilot Syndrome

This trap is based on the comforting premise that one or more other people or systems have the situation under control, resulting in someone just being along for the ride. The Halo Effect can induce the Copilot Syndrome by building a feeling of implicit faith in someone, even though that person is not really experienced or current in that position. It is up to the PIC to ensure that everyone is alert and fully participating.


1. Nonreactive

People trapped by Excessive Professional Courtesy or the Copilot Syndrome may not speak up, depriving the team and their PIC of important input.

2. Data Transfer

This is an interaction that only involves a simple transfer of information without any opinion attached.

3. Suggestion

  • This is a statement that goes beyond simple data transfer to communicate an opinion or idea about how to proceed.

  • A simple suggestion may be perceived as criticism.

  • This can lead to confrontation or conflict, which in turn leads to Excessive Professional Courtesy, as the person making the suggestion decides that they had better not make any more suggestions.



This is Stupid!

The Assertive Statement is usually successful, but if it fails to get the desired response, your assertiveness level must be increased. This can be done using the “This is Stupid” Tool.

To use this Tool successfully, a person must speak those exact words in an assertive manner. This will usually shock yourself and/or others into awareness of the potential risks of the present course of action and avoid the necessity of going to the final level of assertiveness, actual conflict.



Authoritativeness with Participation

The PIC needs to establish clear leadership and command authority, while adjusting the use of that authority to the situation. At the same time the PIC should create an atmosphere where participation can flourish, making it clear that he or she expects to hear about any ideas, suggestions, or problems anyone might have. The PIC should also pre-brief and agree on responsibilities, and be alert to quickly identify and resolve any pinch or disruption.

Avoiding/Resolving Conflict

Any group starts out by sharing information and coming to a mutual commitment, resulting in stability and productivity. Eventually, however, someone may decide that the original commitment has been broken. Hopefully, that person will feel comfortable enough to openly communicate that discomfort by providing feedback to the responsible party.

Strength of an Idea

Strength of an Idea is defined as an unconscious attempt to make available evidence fit a preconceived idea. It has been observed that once a person or group of people get a certain idea, it can be difficult or impossible for them to alter that idea no matter how much conflicting information is received.


Use AESOP™ as a tool to keep your sensors working in all potential risk areas and to avoid channelized attention or a closed-minded attitude that might make you unaware of the development of a serious threat. In a highly stressful situation, it becomes even more important not to focus your attention on only one area.


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