How to Reengage the Disengaged
The Emergency Row Announcement
I found my seat in row 16. I was right in front of the emergency row. I could hear the flight attendant introducing herself to the six passengers seated in row 17. She explained that they must have chosen the emergency seats on purpose and were prepared to hear her emergency exit announcement.
Then I returned to my reading until I heard her say, "Sir it seems as if you are more interested in your phone than in what I have to say." In his defense, he said that he had heard the announcement hundreds of time before.
The attendant walked away and minutes later another attendant appeared and tells the man, "We are asking you to be respectful and to listen when we speak," and she walked away.
As I sat there, I reflected on the events that had just transpired. This man has now been shunned in front of at least 30 passengers. I may have at one time or another been guilty of not listening to a general announcement myself... Would I like to be shunned in front of passengers and the cabin crew? Definitely not. Was the man acting maliciously? Probably not.
The Redo: How to Get it Right
I like the redo technique. It allows me to revisit events to see how they might have turned out if people behaved differently. Here goes...
I found my seat in row 16. I was right in front of the emergency row. I could hear the flight attendant introducing herself enthusiastically to all the passengers seated in row 17. Her voice and eye contact gained their attention immediately. She politely and respectfully asked all six passengers for their full attention for the next 1 minute to hear her important life and death instructions, even though they may have heard them hundreds of times before. She guaranteed them that her delivery would indeed be unique! The six passengers, as well as the neighboring passengers were drawn in with her energy and enthusiasm. They could not help but listen and watch. After her short announcement, she thanked them for their attention and made eye contact with each passenger as she wished them an enjoyable flight.
Why was he disengaged?
That passenger was disengaged, but so was the flight attendant. She assumed the worst. Instead she could have:
1. Engaged him from the start by gaining his attention with her passion, energy, and human contact
2. Set her expectations immediately by sharing what she needed from him and in what time delay
3. Shown genuine respect for him, so that he could reciprocate that respect
4. Avoided the public ridicule by doing 1 through 3.
Are you conveying passion, energy, and enthusiasm for your work and your people? Are you setting the right expectations and giving respect first?
"When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us." Arapaho Proverb