I’ve always held the word “no” in high regard. Apart from its structural simplicity, it’s always stood by me like a good friend when I’ve considered myself at risk in the face of questions like, “Would you like a second helping of boiled broccoli?”
But despite its status as the most important term that people can ever learn as far as their personal safety is concerned, a simple “no” often appears to be the most feared and least-used word in diving.
Which is rather strange considering how much easier it is to remember and understand than the formulas and technical definitions that pad out the glossaries of diving manuals, or the many slang expressions and acronyms in common usage.
For some divers, “talking the talk” has become an obsession; one that blinds them to the fact that diving is a practical activity made safer and more enjoyable when it’s combined with a common sense approach to the use of language.
Knowing the proper terminology is, of course, a handy asset for everyone who dives. Sadly, however, it’s a learning process in which it’s easy to forget the importance of simple language and the value of phrases like “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand” — and even the difference between “yes” and “no”.
Fearing ridicule if they admit to ignorance or voice doubts and concerns about their ability to carry out a particular dive, there’s a tendency among many divers — at every level of experience — to put pride before their personal well-being. Caving in to peer pressure, they’ll ignore their instincts and say “yes”, even when their gut feeling tells them to say “no”.
Which is just about as silly as me saying “yes” when asked: “Would you like a second helping of boiled broccoli?”
Diving since 1961 — with a background in military, commercial, recreational and technical diving — David Strike has dived extensively throughout the Asia-Pacific region, is a Fellow of the Explorers Club and the organiser of the biennial OZTeK Diving Conference.