On the last leg of my journey home having been away on business, I had to take the inevitable 90 minute flight from a large airport to the relatively small comparison where we live. It was with British Airways, and despite the recent introduction of having to buy even a cup of water on their short haul services, I was pleased to be in comfortable surroundings. The sound of Scottish voices and the smiling faces of the crew all helped me to feel that Home was near, and all that stood between me and Missy was a potentially iced windscreen in the long stay.
To my delight BA now have a number of well known actors delivering their inflight safety video. It is both mildly humorous and does grab the attention of the passengers; well, nearly all the passengers, except the two loud men behind me.
What followed was potentially a mixture of 4 hours sleep in the last 30, my previous career in aviation safety and security, or there was that part of me that thought, ‘no self respecting dominant male would put up with this.’ I had tolerated over 2 minutes of their loud conversation in the hope they would see the safety video playing, and that they had not realised. It was only when the actors raised their voices to emphasise a particular point, did I think enough was enough. The two male voices boomed out to drown out the video and everyone’s ability to hear.
I turned in my seat and looked at them without speaking, they stopped also. “Would you mind?” I said, pointing my thumb over my shoulder towards the small 10” screen hanging the aircraft ceiling. “I would like to listen to the safety video.” One of men, slightly older that me, frowned and went to say something, however, before he could, I quickly injected, “It could save our lives!” I did this with a look genuine concern.
In all honesty, I didn’t enter into this to parlay with them. I was telling them polity to Shut The F Up, and I think I was quite successful.
My point, which I always seem to have to clarify when writing, is that being an effective communicator is not about making sure you are heard, it’s about what is remembered in what you say. Now I know that Bert and Ernie sitting behind me didn’t want to stop talking, or for that matter be told by a complete stranger to stop their conversation. And that’s okay, because I didn’t do it for their benefit, I did it for mine. I wanted to do it, yes I wanted to have that moment of awkwardness whereby your delivery could cause a difficult silence in which you have to recover it quickly to be effective. I was exercising my dominance to a tough crowd. Did I feel better for my stand on public safety? You bet your sweet safety card I did baby!