The One Minute Divemaster

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Posted by Jim on April 02, 2006 at 23:26:44:

I was reading the discussion regarding hostility that some on board a dive boat directed toward people who were spear fishing. More than one of the responses (including mine) noted that it was rude for people to hassle spear fishers, as long as they were observing the fish and game laws. Violators were a different story.

The response reminded my of the typology of diver personalities put together by the folks at www.coralrealm.com includes that of Patrol Diver. Individuals exhibiting Patrol Diver behavior are “interested in observing other divers and reporting marine conservation and dive operator violations. Often they can be seen rolling their eyes or shaking their head after observing other divers molesting marine life or violating depth limits. Frequently, they confront violators and communicate with creative hand signals. Sometimes they may be outraged enough to report violators to the dive master, dive operator, tour operator, or resort manager. More commonly, Patrol Divers exhibit passive aggressive behaviors and resort to bad-mouthing violators with their dive buddy. While the Patrol Divers' intentions are well-intended, they should exercise caution if they find themselves on a live-aboard consisting of mostly violators. In this instance, Patrol Divers should carefully check their air hoses for tempering prior to beginning each dive.”

So in these situations what is the proper response to a violation?

I recall one boat that I was working on as a dive master about 20 years ago at Santa Cruz Island when a newbie diver came back to the boat toting a game back full of the sea’s bounty, all of it either out of season or shorter than the minimum size allowed by the regulations. The kid had a bad case of game fever. Among the booty, he had taken a couple of short red abalone thinking they were black abalone. The scars on the abalone’s foot looked like the diver had used his abalone iron as an axe rather than a pry bar. From his “screw you” attitude as I pointed out errors I gathered he was not interested in learning proper identification of each species, so I read him the riot act. I gave him the option of replacing the abalone on his next dive, even though I held out little home for their survival given the damage inflicted, or talking to Fish and Game wardens who I would call to make sure they met the boat when we got back to the harbor. I was admonished by the shop owner who had the charter for going too far with the diver and that “education” always worked better than “chewing someone out.” I was perplexed by this reaction as the owner generally taught a conservation theme in his classes. Any confusion was cleared up the following week when I saw the kid on the boat sporting bright and shiny new equipment purchased from the dive shop including a pneumatic spear gun.

I recently completed a management training program through which I was introduced to the Feedback Model that is applicable in these situations. That model emphasizes description of the situation (when and where the behavior occurred), identification of the behavior that is not acceptable (what occurred), and definition of the impact (on you, others, and the task). The technique emphasizes having the conversation should take place as soon as possible after the situation occurred and critiquing the behavior or action but do not personalize it.

Complementary techniques can be derived from a careful reading of The One Minute Manager a short book by Ken Blanchard that has become one of the classic primers of American and international management since its publication two decades ago. These techniques, which could be included depending on the situation include:
Tell people before hand that you are going to let them know how they are doing in no uncertain terms (e.g., game laws are observed on this boat).
Reprimand people immediately—don’t wait until the incident is well in the past.
Tell people specifically what they did wrong.
Tell people, in no uncertain terms, how you feel about what they did wrong.
Stop for a few seconds of uncomfortable silence to let them feel how you feel.
Reaffirm that you think well of them but not of their performance.
Don’t dwell. Realize that when the reprimand is over, it is over.

Follow Ups:
  • Yawn Tired 10:05:15 04/05/06 (1)

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