Speak Up


Ever have one of those days where you feel like a full day has elapsed even before the official work day has really started?

One morning, I rushed to get my son up and ready early so I could drop him off and race to the airport for a flight to Houston. After I made it through security at the airport, I noticed that my flight had been canceled. Apparently I had missed the call from the airline. So, I went to the gate and stood in a long line to see whether I could get on the flight immediately before my scheduled flight, knowing I had a tight schedule of meetings. I knew it was a long shot since the earlier flight had almost finished boarding.

On the counter in front of me was a sign that clearly stated in capital letters “FORM ONE LINE” although there were three flights being served by three different agents in that area. As I stood there, a woman walked right up to one of the agents, bypassing all of us, and requested a seat on the earlier flight. The gate agent didn’t notice she had cut in line because her eyes had been glued to her computer screen. When the passenger first walked up, my first reaction was to think I was confused because no one in the line reacted. So I asked the man in front of me if there was in fact just one line and not three. He confirmed there was only one and confided that he was glad that he would have some time to decompress until the next flight. He was not in a hurry.

At that point, I felt like it was too late for me to walk up to the passenger and say something. And my sense was that she was completely clueless – she was in her own world and didn’t even notice the sign let alone the potential impact she had on the rest of us.

By the time I got to the front of the line, the agent informed me that the last seat had just been taken. At that point, I expressed my frustration about the woman who had cut in line, to which the agent responded, “Next time speak up!” In that moment, I realized that I alone had made the choice that would affect the rest of my day. If I had said something, that seat would have been mine. I could have arrived early, but because I held my tongue, I had to cancel my first meeting and knew I would be racing to the next one once I arrived in Houston.

I guess I could have blamed the airline and the passenger for how my day would unfold, but I’m not sure what good it would have done me or anyone else. It was far more empowering to realize that I just need to use my voice and make a different choice next time.

So, when you find yourself standing there holding your tongue and feeling frustrated (whether it’s in a meeting, on a call, or at the airport) speak up. Remember that people are often distracted or just don’t realize the impact of their actions on others.


© 2013 Neena Newberry | All rights reserved.