Friday, June 22

Being Candid: It's Easier Than You Think

How well do people communicate when faced with a face-to-face communication dilemma? According to a questionnaire created by the Travel Leaders Group, not so well. The research found that many air travelers do not know how to react in uncomfortable situations.

The questionnaire presented a series of scenarios and asked participants how likely they were to handle a situation based on the response offered. The Travel Leaders Group said that airline passengers aren't sure of proper etiquette while traveling. However, given the questions relate to broad scenarios, it might mean that people aren't sure how to communicate in many circumstances, whether they are traveling or not.

Highlights From The Travel Leaders Group Survey. 

1. If another airline passenger seated near you won't turn off his/her cell phone while in flight, what would you do?

34.5 percent would call a flight attendant.
27.1 percent would say something to the person.
23.9 percent would sit quietly and do nothing.

2. If another passenger seated near you is using headphones to listen to music or a movie and the sound is so loud that everyone around him/her can also hear, what would you do?

47.5 percent would say something to the person.
26.5 percent would call a flight attendant.
17.3 percent would sit quietly and do nothing.

3. If a child was seated behind you on an airplane and constantly kicked your seat, what would you do?

62.8 percent would turnaround and say something directly to the parent or child.
10.2 percent would call a flight attendant.
9.7 percent would sit quietly and hope the parent will stop it.
6.7 percent would ignore it because children will be children.
6.1 percent would turn around and glare at the parent or child.

4. If you were flying alone and a couple asked you to switch seats to that they could sit together, what would you do? 

44.7 percent would gladly move, regardless of the seat.
27.2 percent would move if the new seat was not a middle seat.
13.6 percent would move if the new seat was an aisle seat.
6.4 percent were not sure what to do.
4.4 percent would move if the new seat was a window seat.

5. If you were traveling with a companion on a vacation and you received an upgrade to first class, you would... 

38.4 percent said it depends on who they're traveling with.
29.9 percent said they would pass on the opportunity.
11.8 percent weren't sure what they would do.
7.8 percent would give it to their traveling companion.
6.3 percent said it depends on the length of the flight.

6. If you placed a small bag in the overhead bin and were asked to place it under the seat in front of you so someone else could put a very large roller bag above, would you... 

54.6 percent would do so without a second thought.
22.1 percent would do so, but grudgingly.
9.9 percent would politely decline.

7. While passing through a TSA security checkpoint, if a traveler in front of you is taking too long removing shoes, etc., would you... 

51.3 percent said they would patiently wait.
37.8 percent said they would wait, but be frustrated.
9 percent said they would jump in front of them.

While the survey did not seem to include the best possible responses, it is an interesting statement on communication. In most scenarios, the best possible answer is to say something directly to the person.

The hesitation is largely the result that many people don't know how to communicate directly, honestly, and politely. For example, if someone is using their cell phone, asking if she or he heard the announcement to turn off the cell phone might suffice. Or, if a child is kicking the seat, politely asking the child to stop first will usually be enough. Or, if someone is taking a long time in the security line, asking if she or he if needs help might be appreciated. Maybe they'll suggest you skip ahead.

Allowing yourself to become quietly frustrated or immediately resorting to rude behavior only hurts you. Likewise, the questions revolving around courtesy are equally solvable. Unless you have a physical reason for not taking the middle seat, you move. And if someone needs you to move your bag, you move it (perhaps mentioning that they might consider checking such a large bag next time).

This applies to business too. People are frequently afraid to be candid, causing them to accept deadlines that impact quality, make deals that aren't win-win, etc. Most of the time, open and honest communication will suffice and everyone will be better for it. Don't assume, ask questions and find out  if more flexibility is available (assuming you need it). It's very much like flying on a plane. Fly right.
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