Author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader: 20 Lessons to Advance Your Civilian Career. Teaching vets & leaders why military skills matter to success.
The SOAP Communication Style — A Must Have For Military Deployments
On deployment, we all look forward to calls home. A chance to hear a familiar voice, receive updates from friends and family, and hear about the events we are missing back home. However, all too often, calls back home can become awkward, tense, or frustrating as the deployed service member and the family member attempt to communicate over thousands of miles and 10+ time zones. What family members and military members can consider is using a framework to communicate their feelings and thoughts in a systematic fashion to help bridge the distances of miles and time. The medical community offers a framework for us to consider adopting. This framework can help conquer the deployment challenge of effective communication.
The Medical community, like the military, knows a great deal how to communicate effectively and efficiently during periods of high stress, little sleep, and over work. To help medical professional communicate when discussing patient care and the plan for patient care that incorporates all available information, the doctors, nurses, and various technicians will use an acronym called SOAP to help ensure the best patient outcome. SOAP stands for (1) Subjective, (2) Objective, (3) Assessment, and (4) Plan.
The SOAP acronym can be used in the same way when talking on the phone or via email during a deployment. The SOAP framework helps make sure you discuss, emotions, facts, what this means, and your plans in a single phone call or email.
Here are the details to learn how to use the SOAP framework for more effective communication during a deployment:
S — Subjective. Emotion Based Discussion of Your Feelings. Feelings are often the strongest thing when separated so discuss them first. This allows both people to relate, understand, and inform the other person what they are feeling. Feelings need to be more than told, they need to be understood, so be sure to take time during this part of the call.
O — Objective.Facts Based Discussion of Your Days. A facts based discussion of your day with the challenges and hardships really helps the other person understand all that they are experiencing. The military member needs to always practice good and consistent Operational Security (OPSEC) that does not reveal their location, missions, unit, casualties in the unit, etc. However, describing the terrain, what one carries on a mission, what the village stores look like, etc. offer a multitude of experiences to help the other party understand.
A — Assessment. What Does This Mean? What Actions Could You Take? Next, based on your feelings and the facts of your day-to-day, do you plan to do anything different or change anything? Life on the homefront during deployment presents a multitude of challenges and opportunities from going back to work, completing a degree, or deciding on an elementary school. For the military member, reenlistment, a career opportunity, or a promotion are all things for both people to discuss.