Back of the Bus Glam II

Mid-stride in my lifelong pursuit of becoming a stronger communicator, I’d figured I would share how l’ve learned to respond to the “top ten things not to say to a pilot/corporate spouse riding in the back of a plane”.

Before I had tools, practical skills to eloquently handle my tongue, my knee-jerk responses could have easily included any of the below:

A-Tackle anyone who mentions an item on the top ten list. (Just in case you’re wondering, I’m much stronger than I look. Let’s face the facts; passenger’s luggage is heavy.)

B-Confuse them with a bunch of high tech language. (I.E. Do you think the adaptation of domestic RVSM alleviated ATC’s workload such that pilots can frequently expect to get  RNAV direct?)

C-Inadvertently drop the “frack” bomb. (Unlike on the remake of Battlestar Galatica, the TV series, in the energy industry fracking isn’t necessarily a derogatory word; it refers to a process that extracts natural gas from shale rock–kind of loses its impact, don’t you think?

D-TP their house. (I mean it worked in high school, didn’t it?)

Fast forward to modern times. (recent, anyway) I know now none of the above responses are acceptable and productive resolutions. So I dug deep, searched forty plus years of interpersonal experience, and devised some formidable resolutions.

First and foremost, I cling to this proven truth: Comments, judgements and biases are never really about me or my abilities. (Words I repeat to myself first thing in the morning and last thing every night.)

With that being said, here are a few gracious ways I let people know they’ve over-stepped:

A-If a verbal sidewinder gets launched in my direction, I physically jump (in the air) to the side (or lean over if strapped securely in a seat) and say “Whew, wow that was close.” (Looks a little nuts, I admit, but it always takes the edge off confrontation.)

B-Another custom tool I like to keep in my backpack (for receiver’s with a sense of humor) is “Am I bleeding?” Once I capture my fellow communicator’s attention, I follow up with, “because I think I just got stabbed in the back.”

C-Saying “really” and then laughing out loud sends a lighthearted but clear signal. Stop, think and review what you just said. (Usually makes most people pause, even if only just for a second.)

D-Often times just repeating what was said back to the sayer can be a great equalizer. “So you say I’m a pirate?” Frequently people are just having a rotten moment and lash out at the closest warm body.

E-When I’m clinging to the last knot on my socially conscious rope, (multiple list infractions) I resort to really calling things as they are. “Okay grown up person…(Even if the human opposite me is acting like an eight-year-old.) Or “Oh no, ( in my calm, librarian voice) we don’t do that here.” And then follow up with a kind word (an emotional attaboy/girl) “bless your heart” or  “I’m so glad were back on track”.)

But above all, humor is my universal, multi-head screw driver.

After the coffee and are you the waitress type comments, I usually follow up with “So you have wait service at home?” Then I smile, laugh, touch their shoulder and get the drink.

Despite the varied levels of communicators, beginners, advanced and the highly coveted verbal elite, I still cling to the ideal that at any given moment everyone is trying the best they can. The trick is to call out the facts, with kindness and compassion and then move along.

Weave and bob, weave and bob.

E.L. Chappel author of Risk/Spirit Dance

Making the most of the ride

aka The Glamorous Wife

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