Listen Up United Airlines with AChuckAllen
Wow! Just Wow! Just about the time that I regret saying something in a BLOG, or in a sermon, or even in a friendly chat, I realize that I don’t have near the problem that United Airlines does right now! They have rightly been charbroiled over the negative waves of fiery public relations. They have blanketed the airline with really, really bad PR. What can we learn from United? And how can we adapt these lessons into our own interpersonal lives?
The Customer is not always right, but the customer is always the customer.
I get it! The airlines have the right to boot you from a paid for seat, even after you have been seated and waiting for departure. But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should. Here is the real problem. The customer has no idea that you are in need of shuttling your crew to their destination. And frankly, they don’t care. What they care about is that you proved your superior position as their chosen mode of transportation and then literally beat them up with it. I’ve read plenty of articles that suggest the doctor should have stepped off the plane when asked, but why? Getting a crew to another city for your benefit shouldn’t be his problem.
Solution: Plan and make customer-centric decisions. If you risk having a less than an optimal number of paying customers on your flight, then shuttle your crews by some other method of transportation.
Application: When we start fighting to prove we can or prove we are right, things seem to always go south…in a hurry! Choose to make things right, rather than fighting to prove you are right. You’ll get where you want to go much faster!
Anytime you lean too heavily on a policy, you typically lean away from serving people. Policy, by its nature, is like a barbed wire fence. The reason policy is in place is to keep people in the proper lane, or away from other options. I realize that every organization needs clear guardrails to maneuver through today’s cluttered ethics, but when policy is king, the subjects are often oppressed. I was an interim pastor at a pretty good sized church several years ago. I was asked to come in to settle a rather large dispute over the silliest of things. My first called meeting was on a Sunday evening, and I can still see the pockets of power as they sharpened their pitchforks and honed their knives. When I walked up to the platform, I met a delightful fella all dressed up in his Sunday best! I asked him, “who are you, and what are you doing up here?” I wasn’t bothered by having a little help, as the natives were already restless, and we hadn’t even started. He replied that “he was the parliamentarian.” He was there to ensure the meeting would follow “Robert’s Rules of Order.” I was certainly impressed! At that moment, the first thing that came to mind and mouth was, “sir, you can have a seat with whichever group you agree with, but we won’t be needing Robert’s Rules of Order here tonight.” I don’t think that he had heard such blasphemous words before. As I helped him to a seat on the second pew, I simply stated that I had a “firm conviction that where Robert rules, God doesn’t.” Just as a landing place, that church became a thriving, peace-filled, God-honoring church.
Solution: Let people on the ground make people-centric decisions that allow folks to be treated with respect…even if they don’t deserve it.
Application: It is hard to serve people well while dragging them off a plane. If we want our interpersonal relationships to thrive, we will need to serve them, regardless of their attitude or correctness.
Have a great Thursday!