January 2015.

I was an assistant platoon commander in Bravo wing and we were conducting an exhausting 3D2N field exercise. The officer cadets were pushed to their limits as they spent the better part of the first two days digging their shellscrapes, foxholes and command posts (see image above), and so were the commanders as we rotated between assisting and keeping a watchful eye on them.

The commanders, including myself, had the benefit of sharing the duty of supervising the cadets among one another. Prior to this particular incident, I was out in the field with the cadets while my replacement (also another commander from my platoon, and is under my command) was making his way to the training area with the vehicle that was ferrying lunch for everyone.

Fast forward.

At long last, my replacement arrived and I updated him on the cadets’ progress and had a small talk with him. As I was about to leave the cadets under his charge, I asked if he had had lunch before taking over my post.


“Why not? Our lunch is free.” Never in a million years did I intend to bear malice but lo and behold…

So, you’re saying I only eat free food ah?

I was taken aback by his response as all I wished for is for him to have his meal prior to proceeding with the field exercise. He later revealed that he was angered at my passing remark.

I was left in a state of confusion as I tried to determine how my words could be taken very differently from the way I had intended. How could I have communicated better with my colleague initially, and how should I resolve the communication problem?

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