As a QBS Master Trainer, I fly a lot for work. That’s typically the easy part of my job; relax, read a book, and maybe chat with an interesting person settling in to the seat next to me for a minute or two. But recently, I took a flight that made up for all of my uneventful travel experiences. To tell you the truth, it was an interesting reminder of how Safety-Care awareness strategies can render useful outside of the workplace.
As I was sitting in the middle of a 4-seat row on a fully-booked flight to Honolulu, a gentleman two seats over began to exhibit unusual behavior. I won’t go into details, but it was enough of an issue that the guy between us asked to be relocated to a different part of the plane. An hour later, it became serious enough that the plane was diverted to Seattle for an unplanned landing.
Most of my Safety-Care awareness skills kicked right into gear when this situation began.
10 minutes in, I was mapping out my exit. Another 20 minutes later, I quietly alerted the guy sitting next to me that he might need to call for help if the gentleman’s behavior escalated. At one point, as the individual’s hand reached toward my head, I utilized the safety stance thinking position while seated (No contact was made with my head, but I wasn’t taking any chances!)
Throughout the scenario, I made my best effort to “wait” it out, keeping my face and movements as neutral as possible. (Earlier attempts to help were unsuccessful and seemed to escalate the situation). I noticed that he was not enjoying having anything on the tray in front of him. This seemed to be a trigger when the flight attendant gave anything to him or attempted to remove anything from his tray. The flight attendants (and the guy who had been seated between us) did a great job of giving him some extra space and using quiet, calm tones when addressing him.
In the end, we all landed in Seattle safely. I hope that the person had someone who could help him once he got into the airport. I was glad that I had a few extra tools that helped me to feel a little safer in this unexpected situation. Verbal de-escalation skills, safety stance, safety awareness… when should you use them? Whenever – and wherever – you need them.