It’s August 9th, 2010. You have just arrived at the Pittsburgh airport and you’re beginning the process needed to fly to New York on Jet Blue Flight 1052. You made it through check-in, security check, and are in the midst of boarding your flight. You find a spot for your carry-on amongst the hustle and bustle of everyone else and finally get settled into your seat. Captain communicates he is ready to proceed when you hear another voice communicate, “I’ve been abused by a passenger…I QUIT.”
You look back and realize one of the flight attendants has said this. In that moment, this flight attendant – who had worked in the industry for 20 years – opens a refrigerator, takes out two beers and proceeds to leave the airplane via one of the exit doors down an inflatable chute.
After years of being a flight attendant, Steven Slater made a choice that forever changed the trajectory of his life and career. As a passenger, you’re no longer going anywhere, and you’ve just witnessed an individual experience an emotional meltdown.
We Always Have Two Choices
What Steven may not have recognized at the time of the incident is that he had two choices – to fight or take flight (although, not in the way all the passengers were hoping). To fight, wouldn’t necessarily mean to literally fight with the difficult individual he was dealing with, but rather find the strength to stay, deal with, and continue his job. Instead, he took flight – leaving the aircraft in a dramatic fashion, leaving a flight full of passengers stranded on the tarmac.
Is it necessary to take abuse from hostile individuals who may spew negative, derogatory, and/or hurtful things? Not at all. However, our response to negative experiences will determine our ability to navigate life successfully. We all find ourselves in those moments where two options are presented before us – do we stick with the situation at hand, deal with it in an emotionally mature way – or figuratively (not literally) “fight”? Or, do we cower at the challenge and find ourselves taking flight in order to avoid the situation altogether?
How Intelligent Are You – Emotionally?
Our ability to respond in a constructive manner boils down to our emotional intelligence (EQ). So much of our success, each day comes down to how we respond and interact with the world around us. Yes, our intelligence in different areas is critical – our technical skills and abilities help qualify us to do certain jobs and functions; however, it is our emotional intelligence that determines how successful we’ll be in accomplishing anything we pursue.
So, what do you do when you’re on that plane as the proverbial flight attendant? Do you do you stay and work through the moment, tapping into your emotional intelligence, or do you dramatically flee the situation?
Every interaction you have with individuals throughout the day from the morning with your family and fellow commuters, to throughout the rest of the day with coworkers, clients, and strangers – you have a choice in how you listen, react, and respond.
Where do you fall on the EQ scale and how you are dealing with the fight and flight choices you face each day? Visit chuckgarcia.com/blog to learn more.