Contributed by Joyce Hoff (856)751-6141 (NJ)
Check out: www.pachter.com
A couple had some problems with their tickets and were yelling and being rude to the ticket agent. The agent kept her cool and took care of their problems. After the couple left, the ticket agent next to her said, “Boy, they were really being nasty to you.” The agent replied, “That’s okay. They’re going to London…their luggage is going to Bulgaria!”
“There are lots of reasons to exhibit good manners when traveling,” says business etiquette expert Barbara Pachter, author of “NewRules@Work: 79 Etiquette Tips, Tools, and Techniques to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead” ($13.95 Prentice Hall Press.), least of which is that you don’t want your luggage going to Bulgaria!”
But Pachter, who has traveled the world giving her seminars, acknowledges that keeping your cool as the recent winter weather problems proved, with extra long lines, flight cancellations and booked hotels can truly be a challenge. And warmer weather doesn’t guarantee these kinds of delays won’t happen, especially with new jumbo planes that can carry over 800 passengers at one time.
Pachter who has built a career on helping others practice polite behavior recommends 9 tips to follow when traveling:
1. BE PREPARED FOR DELAYS. Take food with you, have your necessities in your carry-on, make sure your cell phone is fully charged and take a good book. If you’re prepared for the worst, if and when it happens, you’ll be less stressed and better able to handle the situation.
2. ACKNOWLEDGE THE DIFFICULTY. When talking to the customer service person who can potentially help you, acknowledging his or her challenges can go a long way in helping you connect. Simply say: “It looks like it has been a really tough day,” or “It has been a difficult time, hasn’t it?”
3. NO CURSING, NAME CALLING OR RUDE BEHAVIOR. Do you really think that the person you just called all sort of names will help you? Customer service people tell me they have to help rude people, but they will do as little as possible. If you are polite and powerful, they are more likely to go out of their way for you.
4. DON’T MAKE THREATS. In the post 911 world threats are taken seriously. Don’t joke around or intimidate people.
5. POLITELY ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. If you ask for what you want and it’s a reasonable request, you are more apt to get it. Saying “Any chance for a dinner coupon?” may very well produce one.
6. BEFRIEND OTHER PASSENGERS. It makes for a more pleasant trip when things get difficult. You will have “we’re in this together” mentality. Plus, people will share what they know. During one recent delay, a man that I had been talking to had found out that the airline opened a new line upstairs. Before he went upstairs, he came and told me.
7. TRY DIFFERENT ALTERNATIVES. When the lines at the airport or hotel are long, you can call the reservation number and have that person help you. If you have frequent flyer status, you can call their special numbers and make use of their priority security lines.
8. BE ALERT BUT DON’T BE A BULLY. Pay attention to your surroundings. New lines open up and new customer service personnel may appear to help you. You’ll need to be ready to move quickly…but it’s not okay to push or shove.
9. IF SOMEONE IS RUDE TO YOU, DON’T BE RUDE BACK. Ignore what you can, speak up politely, get their name and write a letter of complaint. And, on the other hand, if someone has given you exceptional service, you can acknowledge that person with a letter to their company.
Barbara Pachter is the author of numerous books, including “The Power of Positive Confrontation” ($14.95, paperback, Marlowe & Co.) and “When the Little Things Count…And They Always Count” ($13.95, paperback, Marlowe & Co.) Pachter is a speaker and coach specializing in business etiquette and communication. Her client list features major organizations worldwide, including Microsoft, Pfizer, DaimlerChrysler, and Genentech.
For a review copy of “NewRules@Work: 79 Etiquette Tips, Tools, and Techniques to Get Ahead and Stay Ahead” contact Catherine Milne, 212-366-2149.