'Well spoken' resolution more than eloquent words

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Peter Ford
  • 2nd Fighter Squadron
If you haven't chosen a resolution for 2007, let me suggest one.

Be well spoken.

This provides you two goals with one resolution and benefits you, our Air Force and nation. Webster's dictionary defines well spoken as speaking well, fitly or courteously. For resolution purposes, Webster's only defines one aspect of being well spoken. The second aspect of this resolution is speaking "well" of others or avoiding unconstructive words that detract from the mission.

Accomplishing the first piece of this resolution will require you to know your stuff well enough to speak competently about your job, unit mission, base impact and some larger Air Force goals. For most of us, this is a full-time job. It demands deep-grooved knowledge of unit standards, regulations and Air Force directives.

In our Air Force, most of us labor in technically-demanding jobs where safety dictates we keep our standards high to avoid devastating results. And even if you don't work directly around aircraft, weapons or deadly materials our leaner, more efficient work force demands decisive effectiveness. As an Air Force, we carry out our mission well and scour written standards, regulations and instructions to make this happen.

Yet, there are countless other directives that demand our attention if we are going to speak well on bigger issues. Senior leaders at local base levels persistently advocate the larger picture--unit-to-unit affairs, wing-to-community relations and wing-to-environmental associations to name just a few. Getting their perspective is invaluable as we place our daily operations in proper perspective.

Being well spoken on these issues is extremely beneficial. It lets us prioritize our unit's schedule and mission accomplishment with greater effectiveness. Additionally, armed with this perspective we can carry the proper viewpoint to the local community as we interact across innumerable circles daily. Our society benefits notably as we become true diplomats for our service while our nation battles in the Global War on Terror.

The second piece of this resolution builds on the first--searching for opportunities to encourage sound work principles and steering clear of demeaning remarks. Regardless of your rank or position in a leadership chain, your words are a daily investment in those you work with and for.

With this in mind, helpful analysis is significantly different than brutal honesty. Mark Twain wrote, "People who are brutally honest usually like the brutality more than the honesty." A practical observation appropriately timed can reduce deficiencies without alienating those you work with. Correctly making these comments doesn't come easy though. It takes a substantial amount of understanding the pros and cons of a situation to make an honest assessment.

For instance, making demeaning comments about another unit without complete understanding of the circumstances may be an honest assessment, but aren't necessarily beneficial to unit-to-unit relations. Gaining detailed knowledge of the driving factors behind any friction points will help your whole unit avoid future misunderstandings and inefficiencies. Having done this, congratulations are in order--you have become "well spoken."

Don't relax too quickly in your glory though. Negative criticism is easy to slip back into. Just like other resolutions, (better eating habits, increased exercise and eliminating bad habits to name a few) this one is just as easy to drop. However, unlike these other resolutions, being well spoken or poorly spoken is even easier for others to observe. It is the consistency in this resolution that brings remarkable dividends to your unit and our Air Force as a whole.

These dividends are substantial--better unit morale, greater efficiency in the workforce and a firmer grasp of the entire mission. These are just the internal benefits. From a national and external perspective, the society we serve will distinguish us as the dedicated, level-headed professionals they deserve.

Good luck in 2007 as you put this to the test--the world is listening!