A 38,000-Foot Lesson about Empathy

by | Feb 18, 2014 | Sales Motiviation

By Jeff Beals

I experienced something on a recent flight to Atlanta.

As we starting taxiing to the runway, I settled in and gave my typically indifferent reaction to the flight attendant’s standard safety demonstration. But this flight was different. Three extra flight attendants – all new hires—were on board. One of the experienced flight attendants announced to the audience that three new flight attendant trainees were making their first voyage. He also mentioned that these new attendants had been chosen from thousands of applicants.

Under the watchful-yet-encouraging eyes of the veterans, the trainees led the safety presentation. You could tell they practiced it a great deal. One of the trainees, the one closest to my seat, couldn’t wipe the smile off her face. She was so excited to be doing the demonstration for real. The pride radiated from her face. When she completed many of the passengers applauded.

I thought it was cool but then got absorbed in my reading material and didn’t think any more about it. We arrived in Atlanta, and as I exited the plane, the previously smiling flight attendant trainee was crying and hugging one of the more veteran attendants. She was overcome with emotion and was just letting it all out. Between sniffles, I could hear the trainee thanking the veteran for all the help and guidance. The veteran told the newbie that she had worked so hard and had “earned” the job.

The sight of the trainer and trainee embracing and sharing an emotional moment really struck me. To be honest, I never really thought much about flight attendants, their training and what it must take to become one. To be even more honest, I’ve never been a big fan of flight attendants. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with them but my brain associates them with being crowded into an uncomfortable space while being subjected to a ridiculous number of needless rules and regulations. Air travel is a necessary evil in my career. Flight attendants are essentially “the face” of an irritating experience.

The display of affection, emotion and tenderness I witnessed stamped an utterly human image on the two flight attendants involved. What was just another flight for me was a career-defining moment for the trainee. She will surely remember that day for the rest of her life.

It is easy to take people and their work for granted. I’m guilty of it even thought I try to be appreciative to the people around me.

This experience reminded me of the importance of empathy, seeing the world from someone else’s point of view, walking in someone else’s shoes. Whether we are trying to close a deal or trying to convey an idea to our colleagues, we must constantly focus on empathy.

For what is no big deal to you or me might mean the world to someone else.

Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at info@jeffbeals.com or call us at (402) 637-9300.

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Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or send an email to info@jeffbeals.com.

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