Last weekend we went to see friends in Amsterdam en famille. To cut a VERY long story short – we had a nightmare at the airport but my coaching nous saved us all.
So this is what happened…
We juggled our work schedules, booked our flights and achieved getting ourselves, luggage and two kids to the airport. No mean feat, as you know. So there we are at Gatwick with time to idle away in duty free. With 50 minutes till lift-off we commence the walk to our gate.
Did I say walk? Hike might be more accurate – compass and Kendal Mint Cake required.
It isn’t long before the littlest feet are tired. In fact they might have started walking backwards. Then the feet need a long stop in the toilets… There is no greatness to our lateness as we rock up second to last at the gate. We’re met with a frosty look and some banging of keys. We’re told that we’re checked in on the afternoon flight – not this one.
Now how can that be possible? Adrenaline pumping we politely refute this. Wheeling out our Reasonable Voice we ask them to look us up on the flight manifest. That would be a ‘no’ as apparently they have moved to Manual Mode.
I look at my hubby who is about to choose Go Ape Mode.
He looks at our plane – mere steps away and then back at Ms Frosty incredulously. Carefully he shows our tickets, points out the time and date on them, notes there are still 25 minutes before flight departure. The response? The sound of acrylic nails tapping the counter coupled with advice that sir should exit the airport and re-buy four tickets for the next available flight. Clearly Manual Mode is code for Teabreak. The couple behind us look on anxiously as they anticipate their fate.
No doubt about it, we’re on the edge of the abyss.
That one where how you react makes the difference between toppling in and finding a toehold that lets you crawl out commando style. Intervention is required and I make my move…
The secret of rapport
As grim-faced Hubby furiously looks up the airline T&Cs online I make eye contact with Ms Frosty. After a while I persuade her to rustle up the manager. The manager is listened to. She does some listening too.
Tired, little feet are told this plane is not nearly fast enough for us and we’re going on a mission to find an express one. Duty free is refunded. We’re escorted back to the check-in desk. New tickets are bought at a discount. Then all smiles at passport control as they give us expedited service and back to duty free!
Our Reasonable Voice has saved the day. I win
We boarded the next flight and had a great holiday. Did we have to pay ludicrous amounts of money? Definitely. Was it really annoying? No doubt. But ultimately I got what I wanted. We arrived laughing, had a fab weekend with letters to the airline already drafted in our head. We were greeted at arrivals by our very dear friends holding balloons for the kids and two large cold glasses of beer. I fear the story was not the same for the other couple behind us. We left them apoplectic but getting nowhere fast. Were they on the next flight with us? Nope.
Brick walls don’t care
Where is the workplace wonder gem in all of this?
Bad things do happen. You’ll often come up against brick walls. Brick walls stay brick walls even when they’re shouted at. Brick walls are my coaching speciality because they’re serious barriers to success.
So what do you do? You grab yourself a ladder.
The key is to recognise the first bubble of emotion within yourself and others before it detonates. If you don’t you’re choosing to bang your head repeatedly against the brick wall. First, this is painful and second, the wall is still brick.
Climbing a ladder is much more preferable. To do this you need to be able to recognise the emotion amid the adrenaline. Then you put your brain back in charge. Do this and you’re much more likely to be in control of what happens next. Easier said than done of course but there are techniques and that’s what I share with my clients.
Not letting emotion – yours or theirs – cloud your judgement and muddy your ultimate goal is what separates the great from the exceptional in the workplace.