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Tactful communications

Sometimes I wish I wasn’t brought up properly.

Sometimes I wish I was a two year old unencumbered by the social ‘correctness’ we are expected to abide by as adults.


On my flight from Montreal to Winnipeg this afternoon (to attend the much-anticipated Grow Canada conference) I had to sit beside the Worst. Co-passenger. Ever.

He coughed and coughed.

He jiggled his legs impatiently up and down, up and down, the whole flaming two hours and 44 minutes of flight time.

He continuously made that nose/throat snorting noise that sometimes made me gag.

And he passed gas three times (which did make me gag).

My apologies to the faint of heart for the above.

I spent half the time contemplating how to ask him to stop being so annoying. Should I communicate my displeasure with a kindly smile? Should I be exasperated and short with him, using very concise, but definitely unambiguous-in-meaning words? (I mean, how could he possibly think he wasn’t being annoying? All three seats were shaking; I wasn’t sure the other half of the time when my eyes were closed whether it was him or turbulence!) Ask the stewardess to seat me somewhere else – or ask her to ask him to stop?

Some situations call for absolute tact when communicating with other parties. There’s a great deal of truth in the old saying ‘You attract more flies with honey than vinegar.’ Whether business to business, business to consumer, or passenger to passenger good results come only from clear, concise, tactful, timely and necessary communications. I certainly could have been clear and concise (“STOP SHAKING YOUR DAMN LEGS!!”), but deemed this case ‘unncessary’ instead. I gave him the benefit of the doubt: maybe he had a cold and flying didn’t make his head feel good; maybe he was nervous about what was at the other end of the flight.

In the end, I grit my teeth, I fell asleep for half the time, I jammed my iPod earphones in my ears, and tried to remember lessons in breathing and relaxation from my yoga teacher mom. Because I was brought up properly and I’m not a two year old and every now and then it’s good to test the limits of my patience just to see how tactful I can be.


2 responses to “Tactful communications

  1. Iain ⋅

    Then again, it could have been a great opportunity for a sociological study on human interaction in enclosed spaces. Yelling at him would have, if nothing else, made the flight more interesting.

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