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Crew Coach: Use sticky situations to stir up talk

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Crew Coach: by Capt. Rob Gannon

I’d like to lay out a few possible scenarios that hopefully never come up but unfortunately could while working on a yacht. These situations or something similar could occur in many career settings, so they are not exclusive to the yacht world, but I have heard of these types of awkward situations from folks in the industry.

Certainly, as a personal coach I have worked with and around these kinds of issues, but I’d rather not offer any kind of solution or answer in this space. These types of experiences take some in-depth conversation about specifics and options. So instead of any suggestions and possible solutions from me, it’s my hope that some discussion can be stirred among crew about how they would handle this stuff. Shared insights can be helpful and quite interesting.

So here we go.

Scenario No. 1: You have recently joined a crew on a yacht. You’re still getting comfortable with everyone and everything, and in a conversation with another crew member, you make a suggestion about a different and possibly better way of approaching a task. Then, at the next crew meeting, your mate suggests what you talked about with no mention of you or your conversation. Hmmm – kind of weird, right?

What does one do? Should you speak up immediately at the meeting? How about waiting until an appropriate time and confronting the crew member then? Or, are you so emotionally evolved that you don’t care and let it go? Maybe talk with crew from another yacht? I’ll just add a kicker here: The crew member who did this has been with the yacht a long time and appears to be very popular with everybody.

Scenario No. 2: Again, let’s say you’re new to a team, and the captain has explained the no-drinking-of-alcohol-on-board policy to you. A few nights later, you discover some crew have a secret stash and partake most evenings, drinking a few beers while the yacht is dockside. You really like a cold beer and would like to feel like one of the guys/gals but the captain’s words are ringing in your head.

What does one do? How about just having one once to be part of the team? Do you just try to stay away? It would be nice to fit in and be a trusted part of the team, right?

Scenario No. 3: You are a fairly recent addition to a crew that, when in port, likes to go out together at night for drinks. You notice these excursions seem to always end up in a big complaining and gossip session that can get pretty negative. Again, you want to be part of the group, but this really isn’t fun. Also, there is a crew member who doesn’t partake in any of these outings and she is often talked about – and not always in a nice way – on these nights. Don’t want to be in her shoes, right? What does one do?

The handling of these type of situations is a very individual choice and very specific to the particulars of each experience. The group dynamic can vary, our emotional maturities vary, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all solution. We do, however, have our personal integrities and hopefully a good sense of just what are right and wrong or healthy and unhealthy behaviors. We may be able to relate to one of these scenarios and speak from first-hand experience, and that could help someone dealing with any of this for the first time.

I think it can be good to toss these kinds of things around. It can be light-hearted too, if no one we are speaking with has been hurt by anything like this. Sometimes goofing around with hypothetical scenarios like these can lead to some interesting thoughts and insights.

There are many other situations like these that can get a little tricky to navigate, especially working and living together. Hopefully, there is a trusted source out there to turn to for some guidance if and when they do arise. The balancing of doing what feels right and the desire to fit in sometimes can be quite a tightrope. Let’s work smart, have fun and help each other out when we can.

Enjoy the voyage.

Capt. Rob Gannon is a 30-year licensed captain and certified life and wellness coach (www.yachtcrewcoach.com). Comments are welcome below.

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