Building Strong Relationships Onboard


Good communication is the cornerstone of any relationship, and it’s especially important in the confined and often stressful environment onboard. Active listening plays a key role; it involves paying full attention to the speaker, understanding their message, responding thoughtfully, and remembering the conversation. This demonstrates respect and interest in your crewmates, laying a foundation for mutual trust and understanding.

Tips for Effective Communication

  • Practice active listening: Focus on the speaker, avoid interrupting, and provide feedback that shows you understand.
  • Be open and approachable: Keep your body language friendly and open. A smile can go a long way in making you seem more accessible.
  • Speak clearly and respectfully: Ensure your message is clear and consider the tone you use, avoiding any language that might be perceived as offensive or dismissive.

Conversation Ideas and Tips

Conversations are the bridges that connect us, revealing common interests and forging friendships. However, finding topics of interest in a diverse crew can be challenging.

Engaging Conversation Starters:

  • Share experiences from previous voyages: This can include interesting destinations, challenges overcome, or funny anecdotes.
  • Ask about hobbies or interests: Many seafarers have unique hobbies; expressing genuine interest can lead to fascinating conversations.
  • Discuss future aspirations: Goals and dreams are personal yet universal topics that can deepen connections.

Strategies for Maintaining Positive Conversations:

  • Keep it positive: Focus on uplifting and engaging topics to foster a pleasant atmosphere.
  • Be inclusive: Make an effort to include everyone in the conversation, especially those who might be shy or reserved.
  • Avoid sensitive topics: Steering clear of politics, religion, or personal controversies can prevent conflicts.

Dealing with Difficult Relationships

Despite our best efforts, conflicts and clashes are inevitable. The key is to handle these situations with grace and professionalism.

Strategies for Handling Disagreements or Aggression:

  • Stay calm and respectful: Responding with anger or defensiveness can escalate the situation. Taking a moment to breathe and calm down can help you approach the problem more constructively.
  • Seek to understand: Often, aggressive behavior stems from misunderstanding or personal issues. Try to understand the other person’s perspective, even if you disagree.
  • Establish boundaries: It’s important to communicate your boundaries clearly and respectfully if someone’s behavior is unacceptable.
  • Seek mediation: If the situation doesn’t improve, involving a superior or a mediator can help resolve conflicts more formally and effectively.

Friendship at sea is about more than just passing the time; it’s about building a supportive community that can enhance the overall well-being and morale of the crew. By prioritizing good communication, engaging in meaningful conversations, and handling conflicts with empathy and professionalism, seafarers can create lasting friendships that make life at sea both enjoyable and rewarding.

Remember, the journey of friendship is a voyage in itself, one that requires patience, openness, and effort from all involved.

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Source: UKP&I