You have to look your Airmen in the eyes

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Russell Kuck
  • 62nd Airlift Wing command chief master sergeant

People like to talk about the lost art of communication. For the most part, it's true that these days our Airmen lean more towards electronic forms of communication, like e-mail, cell phones and personal digital assistants.

However like art, if you as a noncommissioned officer are not exposing those you supervise to anything different, how can our Airmen learn to appreciate anything but the norm? 

Take for example, good old fashion face-to-face communication. When I walk down the halls there are always Airmen who look the other way instead of rendering a greeting.

I guarantee you that these are the same Airmen who receive feedback through e-mail, get told they've been promoted over the phone or have to download their letters of appreciation from their PDAs.

Their supervisors are letting them operate inside of their electronic communication comfort zone. In doing so, they are not getting their messages across as effectively as they could be, as well as not helping their Airmen develop this key supervisory tool.  

Trust me, you can use 100 exclamation marks in an email, yet it's just not the same as looking someone in the eye and telling them, "Good job!" On the flip side, no phone conversation can convey disappointment or displeasure like looking someone in the eye while you counsel them can.

Electronic communication does play an important part in our Air Force. However by ensuring we use the right tool at the right time to communicate with our Airmen, we increase our effectiveness as supervisors and ensure they develop an appreciation for, as well as an understanding of, the art of all forms of communication. Hooah!