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Stop, Think, and Listen Before Speaking

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Stop, Think, and Listen Before Speaking

When people speak before thinking or even listening to what is being said, the breakdown of communication can happen rapidly. Poor listening habits can negatively affect business and personal relationships. Here is a situation where poor listening habits and poor thinking skills had a negative impact and hindered the communications between a leader of a Family Readiness Group (FRG) and the FRG members.

In July of 2003, 1/87 Infantry Battalion deployed to combat in Afghanistan. The deployment was to be only six months long, and the soldiers would be rejoined with their family members shortly after the New Year started. The family members that were left behind formed a FRG to assist families during the deployment. Deborah, being the most senior wife in the section was, made the section FRG leader, which means her duties were to keep the FRG members informed and up-to-date on the situation of the deployed soldiers. However, Deborah worked a fulltime job and had a family of her own to care for; Deborah attended all the battalion FRG meetings. Deborah also called, informed, and kept all her members up-to-date of the incoming information that was being released at the battalion FRG meetings. Deborah would also pass on information to the members of her section’s FRG that was given to her by her husband; Deborah was doing her best to ease the minds of the family members that were left behind to run the house and carry on with daily life.

At the time, it was late November and the Battalion was scheduled to return home in six weeks. Thanksgiving was only two days away, Christmas was just around the corner a feeling of hope and joy was in the air. Then, in the middle of the night, Deborah’s phone rang; Deborah’s husband was calling; she could tell from his voice that something was wrong. Through a cracked voice, Deborah’s husband informed her that he had just received word that the Battalion would be staying in Afghanistan for another four to six months. He asked Deborah if she could call just the section’s wives and as tactfully as she could, inform the wives. He also asked Deborah to tell the wives that the information being passed was not being formally released as of yet that he just wanted to give the wives a forewarning so that they were not blindsided when the extension was officially released. As soon as Deborah hung up the phone, she called an old friend, the relieving unit’s Sergeant Major to confirm the information that was just given to her. Once Deborah confirmed that the information her husband had given to her was, true Deborah called just the wives in her section. One by one, Deborah called the wives in the section and informed them that though the information was not being officially released as of yet, that she should be prepared for her husband to be gone another four to six months. Making these telephone calls was one of the toughest task’s Deborah has ever had to do; Deborah’s heart would sink every time she had to inform another wife that her husband was not coming home when he was expected. When Deborah finished calling all the wives in the section, she crawled back into bed and held her children tight, knowing that in the morning when they woke up she would have the hard task of also informing her daughters that their father would not coming home for several more months. By 9:00 a.m., Deborah’s phone was ringing off the hook the First Sergeant’s wife, the Company Commander’s wife, and the Battalion Commander’s wife were all calling and yelling at her for calling and upsetting the wives in the section. All the women told Deborah the same thing, that the information that

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