This week’s dive etiquette tip answers the important question, “When should you give advice?” This week’s tip is: Only give advice when you are asked for it, and if you are competent to give the advice requested. No one enjoys someone coming up to them and telling them that they are doing something wrong, or how they can do it better. They do not want a stranger or even a friend telling them why their equipment is no good and they should get some other stuff. Unsolicited advice is usually ignored, and should be. But when you are asked for advice, from equipment selection, to diving techniques, to places to go diving, feel free to respond, if you are competent to do so. And phrase your response to indicate the scope of your competence.
For example, if another diver asks you what qualities you look for in a regulator, they are asking your opinion and anyone can offer their opinion freely, as an opinion.. If they ask you what regulator is the best and you have owned and used exactly one regulator in your dive lifetime, you are not competent to answer unless you limit your answer to saying, “ I have only ever used an XYZ regulator, but I have been very happy with it.” Similarly, if someone asks your opinion as to the best sites to dive in Grand Cayman, and you have dove their extensively, you can respond appropriately as to what sites you enjoyed and why. But if the only sites you dove were Stingray City and Eden Rock during a one day excursion from a cruise ship, don’t respond by saying that those are the best two dive sites on Grand Cayman. Share what you know and what you don’t. I have had divers who never dove at a particular island tell me what sites were best. How do they know? Remember the second part of the rule, only answer if you are competent to answer.
There is one exception to this rule on giving advice, and it is an important exception. If you see someone doing something that creates a danger to themselves or others, take the initiative to correct them without waiting for a question. It’s ok to tell someone their weight belt is falling off, their air is not turned on, their regulator hose is looped over the ladder pole, or to point out an equipment malfunction or damaged gear. But other than that, don’t give unsolicited advice. Don’t tell people how to enter or exit the water, or how to dive, or why the colors they have on their wet suit and fins are wrong, or how they should get different fins altogether. Be nice, be helpful, but don’t be a jabbering know-it-all. Only give advice when you are asked for it, and if you are competent to give the advice requested.
Happy Diving, everyone!
The Scuba Snobs