Went flying today. As I was transferred to the departure controller, he sounded confused, hesitated, and greeted me with “Skylane… Skyhawk… Cessna 12345“. I gently gave him the correct type — Cardinal– on my reply and he came back with “I’m only as good as the information Tower gives me.“I chuckled — I’m rarely as good as the information Tower gives me. Headings 160 — plus or minus a few degrees or more. Altitude 3000? I’ll do my best, but it may be 3150 and it could be 2900. And it’s likely to change.Communication is little different. Virtually all presenters are using some information that was given to them. Company press releases, newspaper stories, email answers, and entire training classes are just compilations of information attained and passed down the line. Sometimes I wonder if anyone has ever had an original thought.But the presenter is the one with a neck on the line, and the only one whose reputation will be tarnished if the facts aren’t right. George O’Leary lied on a resume and it cost him the plum job in college football. Nixon was caught in a lie and it cost him the best (or worst, I suppose) position of power on the planet. Trainers can lose days worth of work with one factless statement.As the ol’ joke goes, what do pilots and controllers have in common? If the pilot makes a mistake, the pilot dies. If hte controller makes a mistake, the pilot dies. In communication, it’s the presenter’s credibility that dies either way, regardless of who’s at fault.When your message is critical, the facts must be correct. When your message isn’t as critical, your facts should still be correct. If you don’t know, don’t make it up.
Get your facts straight.