William Valentine

Business Development Engineer, B/E Aerospace


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The microaction put forth by the TEDActiveFly project leaders. Help create a sense of community to enhance the flying experience.

As we discovered during our project, overall flying anxiety and discomfort can be reduced by simply creating a community atmosphere before and during the flight. We proposed micro-actions to the travelers of being kind, helpful, and acknowledging the staff as ways of achieving our goal. On the way back to Seattle from Palm Springs, I decided Perform a "TEDWalk" and do my micro-action and here are the results.

The first thing I noticed was the particular harshness of the TSA employees. They were quite cold and "official" which I thought was unnecessary. This could have set a decidedly negative tone to my experience, but in order to fulfill my action I had to shrug it off and begin fresh at the gate.

Prior to boarding the plane my travel companion (also a TEDster) engaged in discussion a married couple concerning the amazing TED Talk about printing organs. It turns out that the couple we were speaking with were doctors who also had much to say about innovative practices such as bloodless surgery. I noticed people passively engaging in our lively conversation. As we began to board the flight attendant and I engaged because I needed to store my guitar in a closet on the 737 we were flying on giving me an opportunity to show genuine kindness and gratitude. Just performing these few actions began to pay off quickly. The flight attendants were especially warm and generous, and more attentive. It was the best flight I have had thus far, and the overall experience was more based on my perception and behavior than the actions of others. I felt relaxed, empowered, appreciated, and even enjoyed. This is what flying should be. Thoughts?

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    Mar 7 2011: Yes. This is what we found as well. Its funny how good will must be packaged in such a way as to be interesting and catchy. Perhaps a consequence of our culture?
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      Mar 8 2011: Definitely - I think we tend to over complicate and over analyze, yet manage to miss the obvious in the process.
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    Mar 6 2011: The results of your experiment are not surprising.

    In working or simply interacting with people I find that a genuine kind word, a smile, some humor, and approaching others with a sense of empathy and compassion turns the vast majority of incidental interactions with people into a pleasant experience.

    As far as I know it works in all cultures, albeit not with all people, and is the essence of our humanity.