hide behind your cell phone

Social skills as a Dive professional

In scuba instructor dive life by scubabunnycr@gmail.com

After a recent delightful email from a disgruntled student ( I should say potential student as they hadn't signed up for anything) it got me thinking about internships. expectations and a whole bunch of other fun things in the scuba diving industry. I get asked more and more for "internship" type programs and where people want to come in and "work off" their scuba certifications. I think one of the biggest underlying factors that people don't really take into account is the fact that you can't "work" in the water as a dive professional until you have finished the program and hold a number. So whilst some centers have other types of work available for helping these programs, a lot of us don't so I can't offer you "work" until you have finished. What we try to do instead is offer shorter educational internships, where I can teach you a bunch of additional skills to help you in your future dive career over a short period of time for a discount. I don't believe in slave labour "free divemaster" type programs because you know what, they aren't free! get your head around that!

So those of you after free accomodation, paid work, whilst completing your professional programs, think again. There aren't many other professional work fields where you get paid to train so why should diving be one? They all have a cost so it is better to pay for your training and learn as much as you can whilst doing it.

Now, back to my original thoughts as to why I started this post. People are getting meaner! After the general mood of this recent email from a slightly delusional potential student, honestly, I personally feel that people in the world are becoming evil. It got me thinking, maybe it's that they are becoming more socially inept?

Don't get me wrong, I will be one of the first people to admit I can be a complete bitch at times (and to my wonderful other half if you are reading this, I know you will be nodding in agreement), but in general whether I am communicating via email, phone, or meeting people, there is a lot more demand and certainly online, a lot more nastiness. It's funny, as what pops into my head all the time is thumpers famous quote from Bambi "if you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all". For those of you that haven't seen Bambi.......you will be met with stunned silence here...hmmmmm.

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Back to the original talk of internships, and after some pretty exhaustive research maybe they shouldn't be called internships, but field experience or Practicum. One of the reasons I offer these is so that the professional diver students can get experience and training in a lot of areas that are not predefined in the standard course materials.  These are things including equipment fixes, sales, the list can go on. What I am finding though is that one of the things that now weirdly enough requires training and pointers is social interaction, leading, guiding and control of clients. How do you work with clients? How do you socially interact with them? 

No matter how technologically advanced the world becomes, scuba diving will always be a social activity as are most sports. You can't go underwater attached to your phone (or god forbid that happens in the future!), you have to talk to people, discuss dive plans, do safety checks and then head into the water. I like that about it. Part of the dive field experience section is that you need to learn to work with your customers and divers. Biggie rule number one. When addressing students and clients, take your bloody sunglasses off. Such an important rule of human interaction, let them see your eyes. Do not hide behind a barrier. Put your phone away please. Unless taking a photo, put the phone away. There is no need to be checking your Facebook status every 5 minutes you are working with clients so pay attention to them. 

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So, one of the train of thoughts that I had been looking at is that due to the fact that people now spend so much time online, on their phone, hiding behind a screen they lose the ability to interact with actual people. You can't read peoples moods, body language or anything. As a scuba instructor or Divemaster, one of the important things when trying to control your clients is reading their body language with regards to stress levels. Are they stressing out? Do they look like they are starting to stress? Can you actually tell? How do you deal with that? How do you talk someone through their dive plans and alleviate any stress?

These are important things you have to learn if you are going to be a good scuba instructor. There are a lot of divemasters and instructors out there but good ones? You want to be one of those that is remembered for a good reason. More people nowadays hide behind there phones, feeling protected in their little bubble as no one can get to them, being mean. It's nice working in the area that I do, knowing that it is a social thing and it's a face to face activity. I never thought though that I would have to be teaching people how to interact socially?! Such and important thing if you want to get somewhere in life I feel. Okay, rant over ; )