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Communication Lessons From Scuba Diving

Scuba diving is one of my absolute passions; I’m currently a divemaster-in-training (Covid is making this training much more complicated than it would normally be) but I am sure I’ll finish the requirements in due time. I’ve learned so many things through scuba diving that can be implemented in daily life, such as dealing with fear and not panicking. In this post, I’ll be going through what I learned about communication through scuba diving hand signals.

The 3 Main Hand Signals in Scuba Diving

Sign 1.

Under the water, you obviously can’t talk, so hand signals are the way to communicate to your dive buddy, instructor, or guide. A good divemaster or guide will continuously check in on you during the length of the dive to make sure everything is alright with your oxygen, equipment, and to make sure you’re staying within sight and in line with everyone else.

As your guide checks in on you, you have to give the signs. If everything is going well and you feel happy, then you give the first sign. It means let’s continue, all good.

If something is bothering you and you need to pause, then give the second sign. This doesn’t necessarily mean we have to stop the dive yet. It just means something is wrong and we need to fix it before we can continue. In scuba diving, it might be the oxygen is feeling weird, or the fins are too tight (or too loose), or the weights are too heavy (or too light). Anything can cause discomfort under the water.

It’s important to pause and check up on the root of the discomfort. Once it’s fixed, you give the OK sign and continue. If it’s something that cannot be fixed under the water, and no one has a spare part or solution, then you give the third sign.

The third sign means we have to abort the dive and surface. This is completely fine-there is nothing wrong or shameful with aborting a dive. Diving can be very dangerous and you need to be in tip-top shape, so if you feel something cannot be fixed then it is much better to abort the dive.

Daily Life Implementations

Sign 2.

This philosophy has taught me so much about communication with my team members when I think something is wrong, and that we need to just pause to fix it before we move on. If it’s not fixable, then we need to discontinue the project or the program or the partnership, or the relationship. There is nothing wrong with discontinuing.

Perhaps some other time down the road the circumstances will be better and the idea can be picked up again. Or perhaps, it is just one person that needs to remove himself or herself from the project and the project can carry on with the rest of the team-just like how the dive can carry on once the person not feeling well is safely escorted to the boat.

There is nothing wrong with discontinuing. Nothing great comes out of pushing yourself to continue the dive when you feel bad.

Sign 3.

Nothing great comes out of pushing yourself to continue the dive when you feel bad. I have learned this is the case with life. If you don’t feel good about it, then don’t push yourself to do it. You will likely end up feeling worse afterward, not better. If you need to take a break, take a break. If you need to stop, then stop. It’s completely okay. Your sleep, your health, your mental health is much too precious and nothing is worth sacrificing that.

The key here is to make clear communication to your partners/team/buddy, and to be okay with that decision. Don’t let people make you feel bad about it. You know your situation and your own limits best.