Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Friday, May 09, 2014

Team V focuses on true wireless communication

by Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello
30th Space Wing Public Affairs


5/8/2014 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In his first "Roll Call" dated September 2013, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody implored Airmen, "Now more than ever we need to communicate...face-to-face. Communication is and always will be the key to remain connected as Airmen and an Air Force. Our Air Force has long valued each and every Airman, yet over time we've gravitated to communication methods that easily fall short of the personal connection we need to solidify the value we place in each other."

Some Team V members took the Chief's sentiments to a whole new level - instead of just getting out and talking to Airmen, they backed away from technology as a primary means of communication.

"Everyone is on a cell phone and it's a barrier," said Master Sgt. Christopher Gremling, 532nd Training Squadron first sergeant.

This first sergeant had a personal cell phone, but gave it up more than five years ago in hopes to encourage himself to spend more time talking to his Airmen, and family, face-to-face.

"I typically get about an hour and a half or two hours with my family on a work day," Gremling said. "Not having a cell phone is an added incentive to spend time interacting with my kids and wife. You aren't tethered to something that has the propensity to distract you... face-to-face communication is the first and best form of wireless communication. If it's after work or at home and an emergency happens, I do have a government issued phone that my squadron knows to call."

He also added that not using the phone or texting as a primary source of communication has made him a better first sergeant.

"Talking to an Airman makes most situations better," said Gremling. "You can get to the heart of the issue quicker with face-to-face communication then with the vague text. You can also see other signs you can't get through text... you're concerned about a member who has a problem but it's hard to gauge how they feel if you don't know their normal behavior. Face-to-face contact is important because over half of communication is non-verbal; you're not going to get that through social media or text."

Where some saw the cell phone as a tether they needed to cut, others chose never to get involved with the mobile communication movement in the first place.

Katie Thompson, a 43 year-old mother of three teenage girls and the Vandenberg Catholic Parish coordinator, has never owned a cell phone in her life and feels that not having a cell phone has made her a better parent and friend.

"I'm present in a conversation," Thompson said. "I'll be talking to my daughters and I'll ask them a question...sometimes they reply with, 'huh?' and I know it's because they didn't hear me because they were texting or doing something on their cell phones. If we go back 20 or 30 years we never would have done that -- it's accepted as the norm now to be distracted. It's like people are frantic that they're going to miss something."

Being cell phone free has also bettered her spiritual and mental resiliency.

"I like my time," said Thompson. "I have a special needs daughter, so when I get out of the house, I want my time to be my time. When you have a cell phone people expect you to be at your beck and call. Not having a cell phone allows me to have the time to re-charge and take a break from things. I think cell phones are very valuable and see them as a tool -- but for other's it's a lifeline. It's scary to me that a piece of technology could have that much control over someone's life."

Thompson isn't opposed to the idea of cell phones, but she feels society has relied on electronic forms of communication too heavily and some interpersonal communication skills are being lost.

"I think young people today don't know how to read when someone is upset through body language," Thompson said. "Listening to tone of voice...you don't get that through text. Then the reassurance that the tone can bring is lost on a text."

From Vandenberg Airmen and civilians to the CMSAF, stepping away from a cell phone and talking to people face-to-face is viewed as an essential component of the future of the Air Force.

"You must know your Airmen beyond their capabilities in the work centers," wrote Cody for the September 2013 Roll Call. "You must respect all Airmen and understand and appreciate what they bring to our team. If you know what is important to them, you will show them you care and ultimately be a better leader. We must and will take the time necessary to appreciate and care for each other. Our Air Force is facing many challenges that will likely continue for some time. We must remain connected as Airmen, and communicate effectively so we can capitalize on the opportunities to Shape the Future."

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