Drowning is a Silent Death

One of the strongest and most enduring myths about drowning is that it is loud. Thank you, Hollywood…. Drowning is often incorrectly depicted with lots of splashing and screaming for help. But in reality, it doesn’t happen that way. Not even close. Drowning, in fact, almost always happens completely silently. The silence is caused because the victim usually lacks the energy to scream or cry for help. And it also happens quickly. Silently and quickly. Really bad combination, especially if we aren’t paying attention.

Which also means that this myth is really dangerous, because it deceives us into thinking that if there are no obvious, loud signals of a person in trouble, then everything must be fine.

This is not a blog about swimming, or pool safety. This is a blog about communication in the workplace, and how we connect, support, lead and thrive there. And while we usually write about how you can use your communication skills to create alignment, persuade, and drive outcomes, sometimes the most important thing you can do with your communication skills is pay attention to the tiniest signals and reach out a hand to a colleague when you notice someone in trouble.

We are living in challenging times. Really challenging. And across the spectrum of the relationships in my life, I know a lot of people who are struggling, outright drowning from “stuff”. Drowning because of work fears, health fears, family stress, loneliness, fears of being a bad spouse/parent/sibling/friend. Drowning at work, at home. I know a lot of people who have this feeling of drowning right now. 

And one of the most important casualties from these 14 months of being told to stay away from each other, is that we are far more likely to miss the little signals that someone in our life might be drowning. Because it is hard enough to recognize the signals even when we see each other. It is dramatically harder, if not impossible, to recognize the signals when we are never together.

So, here is my advice…

If you feel like you are drowning, and you need some help, an ear, anything, muster every ounce of energy you have and phone a friend. Ask for help. You may not get it any other way.

And if you have even the tiniest inkling that someone in your life is not OK, don’t be deceived by the fact that they aren’t screaming for help. Reach out. Because drowning always happens silently. And quickly.

Sorry to be seemingly morbid today. But we all need to care about the health and well being of the people in our lives. Great communication skills, above all else, are really about connecting with other people. And that is what I am writing about today… connecting with the people around us in such a way that we will notice even the tiniest signals of distress.

Have a great day, stay safe and sane, and keep an eye out. Check on your people.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.