Three-Way Communication

For the past two weeks, I worked on an assignment in an industry where safety is of paramount concern because errors can lead to catastrophic consequences. This industry is all about redundancy equipment, fail-safe mechanisms, and various human error prevention tools: standard operating procedures, self-checks, peer-checks, parallel checks…the list goes on and on.

To ensure clear and accurate communication, industry professionals use three-way communication when giving and receiving instructions. For example:

Supervisor: Start steam pump XYZ-288.
Operator: I understand that you want me to start steam pump XYZ-288.
Supervisor: Correct.

Shaped by years of experience in the safety-oriented industry, a veteran says he even uses three-way communication at home. “What kind of scenarios at home would require three-way communication?” I ask, puzzled.

“Well, it’s in fact surprisingly useful since miscommunication is the most common cause of marital strife. The husband often says ‘Why didn’t you tell me about it?’ and the wife would yell, ‘I did, but you were not listening!”

So here’s how three-way communication can be used at home.

Wife: Remember to take out the garbage.
Husband: You want me to take out the garbage, honey?
Wife: Yeah.

But be careful not to arch your brow or show any patronizing expressions, advises the veteran in the industry. Otherwise your wife will yell again—
“Don’t you dare use that three-way stuff on me!”

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  1. […] argument into a mathematical discussion is irrelevant. If I saw you were in the practice of three-way-communication, then I might be interested in what you have to say about history. But just in my discussion with […]



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