Practising De-Escaltion

Hopefully everyone is getting what they want/need out of 2020!  The month of January proved to be an interesting travel month for me.  Here’s a brief synopsis of events:

First week out, flight leaving Minneapolis for Grand Rapids (home) only to circle Michigan and return to Minneapolis.  The Delta app thought we were home, so there was no option to rebook a flight. I had to purchase a new ticket, while in the air, and call Delta as soon as we were on the ground to request a refund.  They had no problem saying they would refund. The amount of the refund, however, was minimal. I had to phone Delta a week and a half later to request a full refund (which they did issue). Flight leaving Kansas City for Minneapolis boarded at 5:30am on a Friday.  We finally left the ground at 4:30pm! The flight from Minneapolis to Grand Rapids (which I was rebooked on because I clearly had missed my connection) was supposed to leave at 8:45pm. We left the ground at 3:10am Saturday (by the way, I woke up at 3:10am Friday to start the day).  I walked in the back door at home at 6:30am Saturday (was originally scheduled to land at 12:15pm Friday).  

When people hear about my experiences some express their sympathy for me and what I have been going through.  I say thank you, but I don’t feel sorry for myself. What I am seeing is the opportunity to put all my Mandt Relational skills into action and watch to see how others handle their situations.  Overall, I will say there is hope for humanity. A vast majority of people I encounter have been working with the situations as best they can. They have been affirming their feelings (frustration, helplessness, anxiety, anger, etc.) and choosing to act in a respectful manner.  

I have listened to countless flight attendants, flight crew, and ground agents do their best to remain calm and cool, sometimes while the person in front of them is losing their cool.  I was standing at a Delta help counter being staffed by two people. The one helping me had just started her shift, the other had been working for many hours. The staff person with many hours in was trying to help one customer when another rushed the desk and demanded to be put on a plane a few gates down.  The agent calmly explained that she was in the middle of working with another customer and would be with her shortly.  

After explaining this several times to the person who did not want to hear it, the escalated passenger stepped back.  When it was her turn, she explained that she got to her gate 10 minutes before take off and they wouldn’t let her on the plane.  It was now 6 minutes before take off and she was demanding that they open the door and let her on because she was here and the plane had not left the gate yet.  The agent calmly explained the timing of when the doors are closed and how there are no exceptions. She was able to tell the customer what time the final boarding call had been given and apologized the passenger was unable to make it in time.  She next pulled up the traveler’s itinerary and showed her that she had already been rebooked on a later flight. The passenger stormed off, after slamming her bag against the counter. The agent calmly looked at the waiting line and said ‘next’.  

I could write story after story about all of the positive things I have seen from members of the public and the Delta staff.  It is experiences like this that make me proud to do what I am doing. If i can help others find the way to affirm their feelings and choose their behaviors it will make their life (and the lives of those around them) so much better.  Not only are we teachers, we are also role models.

Thank you!

Dr. Dale Shannon – Mandt Faculty

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