Chad Ray Coaching & Consulting | Lower Your Tray Table Softly….
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Lower Your Tray Table Softly….

Lower Your Tray Table Softly….

For those of you that have flown, you may have had some level of anxiety about who’s going to be seated around you.  Albeit a very low level, I tend to have that as well due to having some less than pleasant experiences in the past.  Recently on a long flight I had the pleasure of having one of those less than desirable experiences.  The person next to me evidently figured that deodorant was optional and while I may have thought about trying to hold my breath for the four hour flight, I knew this was not possible.  In addition to the body odor I had to deal with sitting next to this person, the person in front of them also was annoyed I’m sure.  Their reason for annoyance would be from this person lowering their tray table several times.  If you’ve flown on a commercial airliner you know that you can feel the tray table being lowered.  Normally that’s not a big deal unless someone allows it to fall on its own.  I once had the pleasure of having a child behind me bang the tray table up and down repeatedly until I turned around to ask the parent to have them stop.  This person though, with both hands free mind you, would just move the lever to the side and watch it drop.  You have to know this is somewhat annoying to the person in the seat who was trying to nap, but the courtesy of lowering the tray table softly was not extended.

Why does this matter?  If you know me, you may have heard me talk about “small indicators”.  To me these “small indicators” tell you much more about a person.  These things are not always correct, but are useful more often than not.  When people do things that are not very courteous to those around them, those are often “small indicators” that I look for when I decide who I want to deal with and who I don’t.  In this case, there were two small indicators.  One of those being the lack of deodorant or some means to cover body odor and the dropping of the tray table.  Before I get in trouble, I do realize there may be some extenuating circumstance behind the body odor issue, so if I knew that then I would be sympathetic to it.  My point here is that small things like lowering the tray table softly are easy things to do that should not be of any inconvenience to you, but can be convenient for others.

In leadership, you sometimes possess authority.  If you’ve heard me speak about leadership you know that I mention that “leadership and authority are not the same”.  However, in leadership positions you do usually have some amount of authority you can impose on other people.  Not only is a good idea just to be courteous in general, but as a leader remember to be courteous to your subordinates.  One example might be not piling more work that could be done by you onto a subordinate who already has a full load of work.  Just being a courteous person in general can help the environment around your organization.  You may have people hired to come in and do things like custodial work, be sure to say hi and ask how they’re day is going occasionally.  Not only will it likely make them do a good/better job for you, it will set the example for your subordinates if they see you.  Never forget that as a leader there are eyes watching you at all times.

I understand that some jobs may require the tray table to be slammed at times, so this is not a 100% rule.  Not many things are, but it should be your first instinct as opposed to something you have to try hard at.  It’s also wise at times that if you do have to slam the tray table hard, come back later and do it again softly.  Follow up with a less aggressive tone and try to pull things along as opposed to pushing them.

Out of respect for those around you, when you’ve got the chance to lower the tray table softly, do so.  The bottom line is that you should be respectful until it’s time not to be.  This is why I say “leadership is an art, not a science”.  There will be times to slam the tray table when needed.  Use them sparingly.

Final food for thought, this person was reading a manual on leadership.  I wonder how her level of courtesy displayed in her leadership style?