Two-way radio communication is an art. In this era of mobile phones –it is all the more important for everyone to learn how one should communicate over radio; because many of the radio etiquette apply to the mobile communication as well.
Here is how radio communication should be done:
Be ready before you speak.
Before making the call, decide about what you are going to say and to whom it is meant for. If necessary, write down your message before transmitting it. If your message is long, divide it into understandable short messages.
Identity yourself upon initiation of call
Radio communication usually occurs among more than two people and they all communicate with each other over a particular radio frequency. Unlike in case of mobile phones, each person does not have a “specific number” which will flash on receiving party’s handset.
So, it is very important to clearly identify yourself when you make a radio call; for example “Bravo423, this is Echo5Charlie.”
Don’t think that this introduction is funny and happens to stylize a movie scene. It is extremely important to CLEARLY identify yourself.
Radio is for sending and receiving important messages and not for long chit-chat. So, be precise and concise.
Go a bit slow
If you have a long list of points to be delivered to the other side –it is considered polite if you speak one point and then say “break” … wait for a couple of seconds… speak the next point… again say “break”… wait again… so on so forth…
Usage of “break” between points and wait for a couple of seconds gives time to the other party to interject if they need to.
When you want other party to speak
To signal that you have finished speaking and waiting for the other party to reply –you should say “over”
Terminating the call
When you want to terminate the call; say “over and out”
If you are talking to your seniors –don’t terminate the call. Let them do it.
Once “over and out” has been communicated –nothing more should be said after this.
In radio communication, interrupting the other party’s speech is considered extremely rude. Army guys may well have to face music for such a mistake. You are expected to patiently listen when it is other party’s turn to speak.
But if there is an emergency and you have to interrupt –you should say “break, break, break”
Don’t use “repeat”
In case of military communication, usage of the word “repeat” must be avoided in general communication because a misunderstanding of this word could have grave repercussions (e.g. a repeat attack)
If you could not hear what the other party was saying –you should use “say again” to request the other party to repeat the words.
Use NATO Phonetic Alphabet
Radio communications are of mission critical nature. A slight misunderstanding can cause an unimaginable havoc. So, it is recommended to spell out key words using NATO Phonetic Alphabet. This alphabet goes like “Alpha Bravo Charlie…”
Avoid saying “yes” or “no”
Saying yes or no could sometimes cause misunderstanding. So, you should say “affirmative” instead of yes and “negative” instead of no.