Interpersonal communication

Control Measure Knowledge

Good interpersonal communication skills are essential for effective fire control command; commanders use communication as a tool for many aspects of their role. Interpersonal communication skills are used to transfer information between fire control commanders and other people. Effective use of these skills will ensure that what is said and emphasised is supported by the way it is said and the body language of the speaker.

Communication can be a direct one-way process, such as an instruction, used to convey a sense of urgency. Communication can also be a simple two-way process that involves an exchange of information; by using active listening and confirmatory questions, effective interpersonal communication skills ensure that information received has been understood.

Effective communication between fire control commanders and others is essential in fire control. The quality of communication affects how well people connect, co-operate and co-ordinate with each other.

Effective interpersonal communicators:

  • Actively listen to others
  • Communicate with clarity and confidence
  • Adopt the most appropriate communication style for the situation
  • Verify information communicated to them to avoid making assumptions
  • Avoid barriers to effective communication
  • Ensure their verbal and non-verbal communication aligns
  • Check for confirmation of understanding

Fire and rescue services should be aware that the culture of their organisation can influence behaviours. This may affect how fire control commanders communicate with others and how personnel respond.

How a fire control commander communicates may affect perceptions of their competence, confidence and trustworthiness. These perceptions can influence the actions and behaviours of others, which may influence several important aspects of command, including:

  • How information is managed
  • How information is received by others
  • The quality and frequency of information that is shared with incident commanders and responding agencies
  • The transfer of command
  • The extent of personal, team and organisational learning from incident reviews

In relevant policies, fire and rescue services should highlight the important characteristics of effective interpersonal communicators.

Strategic Actions

Tactical Actions