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Strategies for Seafarers to Engage Superiors Onboard


Getting your superiors to listen to you as a seafarer requires a combination of professional competence, effective communication skills, and understanding the intricacies of the maritime hierarchy. Here are some strategies to enhance your ability to communicate and be heard onboard:


1. Build a Foundation of Trust and Competence

  • Demonstrate Competence: Always ensure you're good at your job. When your skills and expertise are undeniable, your opinions and suggestions are more likely to be respected.

  • Stay Updated: Keep abreast of the latest maritime rules, technologies, and best practices to ensure your knowledge is current.

  • Be Reliable: If you say you'll do something, ensure it's done efficiently and on time.


2. Choose the Right Moment

  • Timing is Key: There are times on a vessel when everyone is under pressure. Avoid bringing up non-urgent matters during such times.

  • Request a Meeting: If you have an important concern, request a dedicated time to discuss it.


3. Be Clear and Concise

  • State the Problem Clearly: Avoid beating around the bush. Describe the problem or situation clearly, providing any necessary details.

  • Provide Solutions: When presenting a problem, also consider offering potential solutions. This demonstrates initiative and problem-solving skills.


4. Use the Chain of Command

  • Follow Protocol: Always approach your immediate superior first. Jumping the chain can be seen as insubordination.

  • Document Your Concerns: If an issue is severe or persistent, maintain a written record. This can be helpful if you need to escalate the matter.


5. Show Respect

  • Listen Actively: Respect is a two-way street. Listen to your superiors' points of view and ensure you understand their perspective.

  • Maintain Professionalism: Always maintain decorum, even if you're feeling frustrated or not being heard.


6. Seek Feedback

  • Ask for feedback on your work and your communication style. Knowing how others perceive you can offer insights into areas for improvement.


7. Build Relationships

  • Network Onboard: Foster good relationships with colleagues at all levels. They can provide support or offer different perspectives that may be beneficial.

  • Engage in Team Activities: Participate in onboard activities or training sessions. This can help in breaking down barriers and building camaraderie.


8. Keep Emotions in Check

  • Avoid letting emotions dictate the tone or content of your communication. Stay calm and focused on the facts.


9. Engage in Continuous Learning

  • Participate in training programs, workshops, or courses that can enhance your communication skills.


10. Seek Mentorship

  • Identify experienced seafarers onboard or within the industry who can offer guidance. Their insights can be invaluable.


Lastly, remember that effective communication is an ongoing journey. Sometimes you might face setbacks, but continuous effort and the pursuit of personal growth will often lead to better outcomes.



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