Talk like Sully

Its time we learn to communicate. Lets email (and talk)  like Sully.

topics_sullenberger_190

When advised to return to LGA, Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger III  simply answered “UNABLE” and got on with his business of saving 155 lives.

I recommend we use Pilot Radio Communications Phraseology and Techniques for our business communications. It may not sound friendly or polite, but it lands millions of planes a year successfully. So, entrepreneurs, investors, managers, employees, customers, salesmen, consultants, accountants and even lawyers – listen up!

Use these general rules from the world of aviation:

  1. Phraseology is the mark of a professional … reviewed from time to time to sharpen your communication skills.
  2. Listen before you transmit.
  3. Think before keying your transmitter. Know what you want to say and if it is lengthy; jot it down.
  4. Use figures in round numbers

I suggest using these key phrases. I have modified the definitions slightly to be applicable to us non-pilots:

BASIC COMMUNICATION

ACKNOWLEDGE- Let me know that you have received my message

ADVISE INTENTIONS- Tell me what you plan to do.

OUT- The conversation is ended and no response is expected.

OVER- My transmission is ended; I expect a response.

ROGER- I have received all of your last transmission. It should not be used to answer a question requiring a yes or a no answer.

HOW DO YOU HEAR ME?- A question relating to the quality of the communication or to determine how
well the communication is being received.

SAY AGAIN- Used to request a repeat of the last communication . Usually specifies communication or portion thereof not understood

I SAY AGAIN- The message will be repeated.

CORRECTION- An error has been made in the communication and the correct version follows.

STAND BY- Communication pause  to attend to other duties of a higher priority.

BASIC YES/NO

AFFIRMATIVE– Yes.

THAT IS CORRECT– The understanding you have is right.

NEGATIVE– “No,” or “permission not granted,” or “that is not correct.

DECISIONS

WILCO– I have received your message, understand it, and will comply with it.

UNABLE– Indicates inability to comply with a specific instruction or request.

ACTIONS

CLEARED AS FILED–  Proceed in accordance with the plan

ABORT– To terminate a preplanned maneuver

DELAY INDEFINITE (REASON IF KNOWN)– Used when an accurate estimate of the delay time and the reason for the delay cannot immediately be determined

RESUME OWN NAVIGATION– Used to advise a pilot to resume his/her own responsibility.

VERIFY– Request confirmation of information; e.g., “verify assigned altitude.”

WHEN ABLE– When used in conjunction with instructions, gives the latitude to delay compliance until a condition or event has been reconciled. Unlike “pilot discretion,” when instructions are prefaced “when able,” the pilot is expected
to seek the first opportunity to comply.

STATUS

ON COURSE – Used to indicate that an aircraft is established on the route centerline.

OFF COURSE– A position fix is reported or is observed at a point not on the approved
plan.

FINAL– On the final approach,  course is aligned with a landing area.

REPORT– Used to instruct pilots to advise of specified(real time)  information; e.g., “Report passing Las Vegas
VOR.”

EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION

EXPEDITE– Compliance is required to avoid the development of an imminent situation.

IMMEDIATELY– Compliance is required to avoid an imminent situation.

EMERGENCY– A distress or an urgency condition

MAYDAY

Note the flow and use it to get things done in the world of business (but keep things in perspective – Sully never used Emergency or Mayday):

Expedite -> Immediately -> Emergency -> Mayday

Please note that I modified the definitions slightly. The original is here.

Finally, so as not to confuse “Talk like Sully” text (aka TLS) from other text in the body of the email, it is suggested to use CAPS. Since ALL CAPS is considered “yelling”, I suggest prefacing the terms with “*” (conviniently located on the number pad to the left of your cup of coffee).

Now back to the usual topics of this blog – airfare savings, frequent flyer info and some New England vacation ideas.


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7 Responses

  1. Investor speak:
    have been overwhelmed the last few weeks and will be traveling next week. I am looking forward to touching base with you when I return

    Sully speak:
    DELAY INDEFINITE

    Investor writes:
    US based investor with extensive travel industry and hospitality experience is seeking investment opportunities in the adventure travel market. Will consider investment in businesses with unique Unique Selling Proposition’s for the long term, subject to a detailed due diligence.

    My answer in Sully speak:
    SAY AGAIN

    Last one for me –

    Employee writes:
    Wow, I really had a hard time compiling the module. Yvgeny didn’t check in his code and only Elena knows the password. She went home before I could get it. Anyway, the QA guys didn’t seem in a big rush with this release. So, I guess we will have to delay it to next week. Sorry, but I didn’t get the help I needed from John’s team.

    To which, as VP R&D I answer – RESUME OWN NAVIGATION

    OVER

  2. Great idea, the examples. One from me –

    From the Obama Inauguration Speech:

    That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

    Sully would have said:
    OFF COURSE

  3. […] We  simply want to solicit snappy captions for this picture.   Or intelligent comments. Or in Sully-speak […]

  4. I think “NEGATIVE” would convey the same meaning as:

    “Due to the current climate, I am finding it a challenge to raise investment capital for early stage ventures. My priority at present is to keep my own start-ups flush and that is consuming much of my time. But I will pass on your details to individuals whom I feel may have synergy and interest.”

    If Sully was thinking about “synergy”, he and the 155 people on the plane would be dead.

  5. […] are often entry-level.  First officer Rebbecca Shaw graduated high school in 2002. Sully, by comparison, has 40 years of experience and was a US Air Force Academy graduate and top flier in […]

  6. […] Shaw, the more experienced (on Dash-8) pilot in the cockpit,  graduated high school in 2002. Sully, by comparison, has 40 years of experience and was a US Air Force Academy graduate and top flier in […]

  7. […] We  simply want to solicit snappy captions for this picture.   Or intelligent comments. Or in Sully-speak – […]

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