Professional attitudes must go beyond workplaces

March 28, 2011

A pilot was driving home after finishing his duty. As he passed by a market, he bumped into another car, driven by manager of a famous restaurant in the market. It was not a bad accident at all. No one was hurt. It simply left a small dent on the manager’s car, which could have been easily fixed. However, it triggered manager’s anger beyond control. After a few minutes of heated arguments, he thrashed the pilot. The pilot, in an attempt to protect himself tried to escape and moved his car. However, the manager wouldn’t leave him. In this process, the most unfortunate and tragic thing happened. Manager’s leg got entangled in the front wheel and he was run over by the pilot’s car. He died on the spot.

This is one of the many road rage incidents, which kill thousands annually.  However, what is noteworthy in this case is that both the people involved were in a profession, which requires them to be patient and keep their cool. A pilot is trained on what to do during a turbulent weather. Hotel/restaurant managers are supposed to know how to handle difficult guests. Keeping patience and being polite are demands of every profession but are stressed much more in the hospitality sector.

My friend from India who shared this incident with me wondered as to why their professional training did not help them in this instance. A very pertinent question indeed!

There seems to be a disconnect between our professional and personal attitudes. We need to ensure that we apply our work workplace learnings into our life as well. Attitudes that work at work, work in social and personal life as well.  There is also a point for consideration for workplace trainers. Usually, professional trainings provide approaches and solutions to deal only with workplace situations. A pilot is often trained to remain cool while flying and dealing with his crew or passengers on board. Similarly, a hotel manager is trained on being polite with his guests. They are not trained on developing an attitude of politeness in life. Hence, they are different when the leave their workplaces.

I would draw the attention of HR managers, professional training institutions and trainers on this issue. We all need to think out of the box and present examples and case studies, connecting work and life, particularly when it comes to issues related to attitudes and skills. If we don’t do this we may end up only assisting a manager keeping a fake smile on his face while he is at work. But he risks losing his life over a small dent on the car outside his place of work.