If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that I will use anything I learn anywhere to help my marriage succeed. I especially like to look at examples of excellence in other areas of life, tweak it, maggi-fy it, and use it on myself first and then share it with you – my lovely readers.
I got so many positive comments from what the Ritz Carlton could teach us about happy marriages that I can’t wait to share this week’s inspiration.
This is a story of a Cozee Cafe, a Cruise Ship, Communication, and a Canoe.
Before you fasten your seatbelts, I must pause to share that my dear friend CJ has a whole month of inspiring C words in her free E-Course “Vitamin C: Vitamins for Your Vibe”. You can grab that here.
I hang around her a lot, so I think some of her C-inspiration has rubbed off on me. The accumulation of C words in this post is purely coincidental and totally cracks me up.
Unplanned yet fabulous. Like most of life.
Okay, now back to today’s C’s.
It all started with doing research on what makes marriages strong. I came upon a Facilitator’s Training on a program called “Prepare/Enrich.” It is a scientifically proven program that started in the 1980’s and includes assessment tools and practical exercises to build strong marriages. I thought if over 3 million couples have been through it, they must be doing something right.
So of course I immediately registered to attend the next available training which was in December.
This brings me to the first C. The Cozee Cafe.
coffee shop that I can’t wait to return to.
This was the best yogurt parfait I have had outside of Costa Rica (where everything is organic and tastes like it was made in Technicolor).
Should you ever have a reason to go to Lake Mary, now you know where to go for coffee, croissants and parfaits.
The second and third C’s go together. Cruise Ships and Communication. Might sound like an odd combination but here goes.
I was blessed to work for several years in Human Resources for one of the major cruise lines. During that time I learned about a technique used on the Bridge called “Closed Loop Communication.”
It goes something like this:
1st Officer to AB (which stands for Able Bodied Seaman – and yes a woman can be an AB. Why they have such archaic names I have no idea, don’t even get me started on Deck Boy – which is an official position title. A 47 year old man can be a Deck Boy. Go figure.)
Where were we? Oh, yes. Closed Loop Communication Example #1.
1st Officer to AB: Lower the anchor. <– opens the loop
AB repeats: Lower the anchor. <– confirms what was said
1st Officer says: yes. <– closes the loop
When I first learned of this concept, I loved it.
I came home and told The Hubs all about it and now whenever we are running errands or doing house things, he will repeat something back to me and say, “Just closing the loop.”
I am not sure but I think he fantasizes about being a Captain for a nanosecond whenever he does that.
<Insert Hubby vehemently denying such a fantasy.>
<Insert Wifey nodding and smiling.>
Professional mariners attend Bridge Simulation training where they learn all about closed loop communication and then have to practice it during emergency simulations.
This purpose of this closed loop communication technique is to eliminate any doubt or uncertainty in an instruction.
When you are responsible for thousands of lives while also moving a billion-dollar item such as a modern cruise ship, closed loop communication is essential for the safety and security of everyone involved.
They use this process in hospitals too. I found the following in a riveting article from the “Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality.”
Hey – I read these things so that you don’t have to, remember?
“[The] process of using closed-loop communication to ensure that information conveyed by the sender is understood by the receiver as intended.
The steps include the following:
- Sender initiates the message
- Receiver accepts the message and provides feedback
- Sender double-checks to ensure that the message was received
Nurse:“Apply 2 liters of oxygen via nasal cannula.”
Nursing Assistant: “2 liters oxygen via nasal cannula.”
Nurse:“Yes, that’s correct.”
I love this example because if you are going to stick a tube in one of my bodily cavities – I definitely want to make sure you know which one. Close that loop!
Okay, back to Lake Mary. There I am sitting in a training room with family counselors and social workers and the trainer starts explaining “Active Listening.”
It sounds like a very fancy psychological term until she gets to this sentence: “Active listening is the ability to let your partner know you understand them by restating their message.”
Now don’t ask me why, but Closed Loop Communication is much more exciting and sexy to me than Active Listening. Maybe it’s because if there really was a Star Trek I know Spock and Kirk would be closing loops all day long. Maybe it’s because in real life, when you see those big beautiful ships sail by, you know they are closing loops starboard and aft all day long. Maybe it’s just because I first heard about them from a Norwegian and I love their accents.
It doesn’t matter.
What matters is it works.
On ships. In emergency rooms and on weekend getaways.
Here we are practicing closing loops in a Canoe (The final C.) in Lake Mary the day after the training conference:
So how can this lovely concept save your marriage?
Why does it work as well in a maritime training center as it does in a marriage preparation course?
Because good communication depends on listening and receiving clear messages and you grow closer as a couple when you listen.
When each person is heard (and you confirm what you heard by repeating it) then each person can feel understood. Don’t you always feel better when you feel understood?
I know I do.
I also know I feel better when The Hubs brings home the orange juice instead of the guava juice.
Or the tomatoes instead of potatoes.
Try it at home on simple things. Grocery lists are good. Errands too.
Then when you have a biggie going on – you will already have practiced in simulations, just like the ship captains. You will be ready for the emergency and know what to do.
Have you had any disasters that could have been prevented by Closed Loop Communication? Please share in the comments.