Ten tips for better communication

The Navigator magazine recommends ten points to bear in mind next time you’re on duty on the bridge

The Navigator, a free magazine issued by The Nautical Institute for professional marine navigators, has included in Issue 08 ten key aspects to bear in mind next time you’re on duty on the bridge.

Tips in the list include the following points to take into consideration:

  1. Sharing

Communication is about sharing or exchanging information by any means. For Navigators, two of the most important means of communication are by talking (verbal) or by electronic exchange.

  1. On target

Good communication and good information exchange is absolutely essential to good navigation. Navigators need to be sure that the information they communicate is both sent and received accurately

  1. Talking of disaster

Miscommunication or the use of poor information is a leading cause of accidents and costs us all dearly in terms of reputation, money andenvironmental impact.

  1. Body Talk

Bridge team communication can include body language, tone and verbal communication. All of these are essential for good bridge team management.

  1. Plan to succeed

The awareness of risk, and the safe management of risk is far more effective when shared amongst all professionals on the bridge, including Navigators, Pilots and where appropriate Engineers. Consider ‘planning’ your important messages, particularly if you are not comfortable in the language being spoken.

  1. Listen and look

Encourage all participants to ‘speak their minds’ to ensure that your message has been clearly understood. The speaker’s duty does not end once the listener has repeated the message. To avoid accidents, the speaker must then observe and verify the action.

  1. Overload

If too much data is displayed or it is presented in an inappropriate way, Navigators can be distracted, focus on the wrong things or waste valuable time.

  1. Humans and machines

Navigators need to make sense of what computers are telling them. Most of all, they need to combine their human abilities and their technological strengths to develop effective communication using the strengths of both

  1. Does it make sense?

Information provided by electronics is not always useful or accurate. Navigators must always question what they see and use common sense and professional knowledge to evaluate it.

  1. Silence can be golden

While good verbal communication is essential onboard in a bridge team, for collision avoidance the COLREGS have been designed to be a rule-based system, avoiding the risks inherent with voice communication.


Each issue of The Navigator, a free magazine for professional marine navigators issued by The Nautical Institute , has a theme and comes with a handy list of ten tips called Take 10 that sum up that theme.

View the full list here or visit NI website to read the Take 10s featured in each issue of The Navigator.

Source: The Nautical Institute

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