Equal Opportunity Office: Filling communication gaps

by Airman D. Blake Browning
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 86th Airlift Wing Equal Opportunity office on Ramstein Air Base, is offering professional development courses to combat work place communication problems.

“What we do, is try to resolve concerns or issues that people may have based on what they believe may be discrimination or harassment,” said Heather Bradley, 86th AW EO director. “We also cover reprisals for going to EO or standing up against a policy.”

A lot of what comes through the EO office are communication gaps. EO often receives phone calls from leaders and managers who are having difficulty communicating with their team or see people having difficulty communicating within their work center.

“After evaluating the data from my office, I saw there was an opportunity to reach out to the military community and fill part of that communication gap with some leadership tools,” said Bradley.

The EO office offers courses designed to combat bad communication and promote healthy workplace dynamics.

“Once the communication flow opens up between people we don’t have as many misunderstandings,” said Bradley. “It’s the preventative piece; that’s the focus. The educational piece is a bi-product, but professional and personal development for everyone is a win for the wing.”

Some courses offered by EO include:

  • DISC, which stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. A non-judgmental tool used for discussion, DISC produces a detailed report of people’s behavioral differences; and also provides participants tips related to working with people of other styles.
  • Emotional Intelligence, which offers 66 strategies that increase ones emotional intelligence. Participants who increase their emotional intelligence skills increase their ability to communicate effectively, handle conflict, respond to change, manage stress, and provide better customer service.
  • 4 Lenses personality assessment, which helps organizations understand the talent and potential of its individuals. The assessment has been simplified to create a more enjoyable experience with longer-lasting application retention.
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which aligns timeless principles of effectiveness with modern technology and practices. The program aims to teach participants to effectively lead themselves, influence, engage and collaborate with others, and continually improve and renew their capabilities.
  • John Maxwell Team Leadership Program, which raises leadership awareness of participants and introduces timeless leadership principles that aim to bring about positive change through communication and connection.

“The EO field has had these kinds of human relations development courses for a very long time,” said Bradley. “We’ve always believed that if we reach out and develop people, we’re likely to have less conflict and we’re likely to have less complaints.”

The goal of offering personality awareness courses is to not only help participants identify their own personality traits but to also identify the traits of colleagues.

“When we bring awareness and raise consciousness in people that’s when we have the opportunity to invoke real change,” said Bradley. “We want to make sure that we have an environment where people understand one another and employ empathy.”

Bradley added, with these skills, people are…better; when they communicate better they can resolve problems at the lowest level.

“Conflict is healthy,” said Bradley. “But it’s how we engage in conflict is what I would like to change.”