don’t be THAT guy

19 Oct

while sitting on a plane that is boarding to take me home from a bit of vacation i had the pleasure of seeing an example of a person i never want to be.  yes, it was an early flight, 6:35am.  yes, everyone was tired, who wouldn’t be when you know everyone had to get up around 5am.  yes, the plane was crowded and people like to be by there bags…i’m bearing all of this in mind.  as the flight attendant was doing a bit reshuffling of the bags on a totally booked flight, she was shifted small bags and turning big bags to maximize the room…this is what she does for a living, right?  right.  so she takes a small brown bag and is about to move it across the aisle when a passenger enters into a very rude exchange with her regarding “what are you doing with my bag”, i’m guessing you know how the rest goes.  in the end he took his bag and put it at his feet but the whole section of the plane was watching to see how this was going to end up.  there is no way to defend this guy, from the moment he asked the question he had entered into a power play and nobody likes a bully.  to the flight attendant’s credit she was calm and was probably going to yield to whatever the guy wanted in the end.  who wants to be “that guy”?  not necessarily the specific individual but i’m talking about the person who puffs out their chest and challenges people from the word go.  i can’t imagine anyone sitting in the area thought this guy was in the right to take the stance he did over such a silly issue of moving a bag.  i work with adults all the time and in many ways i play the role of the flight attendant, although i’ll file that comparison under ‘blog ideas’ for now.  in any case, if a teacher chooses to assume a challenging posture during a training i’m asked/forced/required/duty bound to put on my best customer service face and do what needs to be done.  on the plan the attendant would have never thrown the guy’s bag at him and gotten in his face; probably wouldn’t even have made a snide remark and neither would i, but why is that?  am i being the bigger person?  is it a customer service issue?  does it just have to do with being the one with the cooler head?  the flight attendant was just doing her job to the best of her ability and trying to meet the needs of all the passengers on the plane just like professional development folks do their best to work the room and provide what everyone needs.  this isn’t about me wanting to give someone a piece of my mind and not being able to, i grew out of that years ago.  perhaps one of us on the plane should have spoken up?  would i want a fellow participant to defuse an angry teacher during a training?  on the plane there was nothing the attendant could have to done differently, she had no idea this guy would react this way to what is a very common occurrence on a full flight and when leading a session the same applies for me.  i guess i’ll continue to tread lightly.


Posted by on October 19, 2009 in Uncategorized


4 responses to “don’t be THAT guy

  1. Susan

    October 21, 2009 at 8:51 am

    A few weeks ago I was “attacked” by one of the participants. The angrier she became, the calmer I became. I think the lack of reaction makes them even angrier. And YES, I wanted a fellow participant to defuse her!! However, that did not happen. How do you keep your cool? I didn’t get angry until later. I just wanted to crawl under a table and suck my thumb. I would love to know how others handle a situation like that because I almost always have comments that I need to stop the sidebar conversations. At what point do you say something? Is it still being professional? That person paid just like the next one. What would a store clerk do? A resturant manager? Ask them to leave? For the time being, I too will continue to tread lightly!

  2. Jeri

    October 21, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    I view the training environment just as I did the classroom. Without control and a real presence where the students honor the teacher with respect, it makes for a miserable day. I really must have total respect in training without it I get sick to my stomach and am totally miserable–it probably comes from the early years of being disrespected, screamed at, ignored and treated like a pariah. I’m probably too hardnosed at this point, but I feel being assertive, and demanding respect is the only way to go. Norms drive everything and I expect and demand adherence. I’ve learned that typically when people get upset particularly in training there is usually an underlying cause for their distress. Most people are typically nice people and there are just a handful of truly mean rude individuals. A technique that always works for me when someone goes left is to ask as sincerely as possible and with a feeling of deep hurt what I’ve done to deserve such disrespect. Speaking slowly and deliberately enunciating each word, I reflect on the history of our interaction during the training –emphasizing all I’ve done to make the training environment and content engaging and appropriate–every single time it makes them feel so bad they become perfect participants–a second technique is that using words dripping with the sweetest of honey I invite them to leave and reschedule with a promise to contact the principal with an explanation for their return to campus. That is more effective than the first technique. And I keep repeating to myself over and over, “Don’t take it personal”.

  3. texasbuckeye

    October 22, 2009 at 6:30 am

    @jeri – in light of very recent events this post has taken on a whole new life, huh? i was doing a little prognosticating when i wrote it i guess. maybe i should blog about the perfect audience and that dream might come true too 🙂

  4. Heather Tate

    October 22, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    As my team knows, I struggle with how to address teachers’ behaviors also in training. I would love to have a training called “How to Deal with Difficult Participants” where we stage a training environment and role play situations. That way after some practice I can be comfortable reacting. I felt the same way with dealing with parents. Teachers need training on how to deal with parents that blind-side them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: