Friday, April 21, 2017

What We Learned from the United Airlines Incident - Tip #130

Sad things happened to some people, a United Airline passenger and its employees and management. This breaks my heart and makes me sad.
Trainers and leaders are supposedly guardians of right or wrong behaviors. We are messengers and caretakers of what people ought to do. Yet somehow, in the United Airlines incident, we the guardians and caretakers allow incidents like this to slip into the cracks.

I am of course being too harsh on ourselves. However, think about how these incidents do happen in our midst in some form or another, small or big.

Time for Candor

Let’s not hide from the ugly truths of errors and mistakes our learners are exposed to or likely to make. Our trainings are usually sanitized, spic and span and do not the show dirt and ugliness of blunders. In real life, we ought to confront lapses head-on and not shy away from them.

I just read Radical Candor: Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott.
Kim Scott says, we are too politically correct and we tiptoe on giving observations. We end up not giving truthful feedback when needed.

Click on the image to play the video.

War of Stories

Values and cultural beliefs are powerful igniters of right or wrong behaviors. If the environment encourages intimidation or compassion, employees take this as a signal for the boundaries of behaviors.
We are constantly under threat. Our investments in training and learning cannot win against cultures that are counter to what we teach.

I recall a story on This is a video on Civility.

United Airlines “Incident” Videos as Viral Learning 

I’m almost done reading “Contagious: Why Things Catch On” by Jonah Berger. The stories that became so viral from the United Airlines incident are phenomenal, but expected. There were multiple people in the plane taking videos. They retold and passed around (virally) their own stories.
We, as trainers and learning professionals would prefer “a best practice – someone doing the right thing” video to be viral. Yet, we know people are attracted to incidents. This is not because we are negative or want to gossip, but because the United Airlines incident hit us in our hearts and minds – the incident moved us. We cannot help but empathize with the passenger, employees and leaders of United Airlines.


I am truly sad. Yet, deep in my heart I know that these incidents make better people out of us. Remember the BP Horizon explosion and Volkswagen tampering anti-pollution software in thousands of cars? These are stories that we will not forget so soon.
Please share your thoughts. Post a comment.
Contact Ray for a 45-minute webinar for your LT&D professionals and leaders – complimentary.
I want to share with you how the likes of United Airlines can serve as a good lesson.


Radical Candor - Improve your in person, impromptu feedback | Candor, Inc.

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

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