Mentoring in Mid Air

By Thursday, June 19, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

I have had a few mentoring roles in my career. And, I had the fortune of having an important role model and mentor who helped me. Things that a mentor commonly covers are: corporate politics, asking for a raise, having a difficult conversation with your boss, the pitfalls of email, accepting credit vs. taking credit, and getting ahead. (Notice I didn’t say, “managing work/life balance.”)

Apparently, these days good mentoring also includes “navigating airplane malfeasance.” Recently, my mentoring prowess seems to be increasingly sought on the subject of surviving flight. And, it’s really the female novice travelers – even the female non-working travelers – who need the most help.

Turns out, these infrequent travelers may be easy prey to the masterfully manipulative maneuvers of merciless male (and yes female) travelers. Today, one of my friends informed me that she was asked to “just scooch over” into the middle seat from the aisle so that the person wouldn’t have to climb over her and bother her during the flight! Does anyone actually fall for that?

Someone else said that the person next to her lifted up the armrest so that he could ooze into her seat space. Simple solution here – lower it, avoid eye contact, and if he presses, simply state that you need the armrest for your leprosy infected arm. That should thwart a wide range of potential problems later in the flight.

An increasingly common question I’m getting is how to handle the fellow with the earphones watching a movie, where the volume is so loud you can hear this awful pitchy buzz. You aren’t sure what to do as it seems a little petty and yet, it’s worse to hear this pitchy buzz than it would be to just hear the movie. My way of handling this is to do a little “dial down” sign with my fingers. It seems more polite than shouting, “You must be going deaf if you need the volume that high!”

Finally, I have been asked about the seatmate (or nearby passenger) who is working on his computer but has mistaken the keyboard for some sort of finger-punching bag. He isn’t typing so much as pounding. And, he happens to be writing something very long. I honestly don’t know what to do in this situation. It doesn’t seem like a “dial down” sign would translate very well. Meanwhile, my maternal instincts make me want to touch his hand and say, “now, now, calm down, everything will be all right,” while my female corporate traveler instincts want to reach over and slam his laptop shut! Maybe one solution is to start tapping your own fingers onto the tray table and act real innocent about it.

If you have any mentoring advice or advice for how to handle the loud pecking seatmate, please let me know!



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