Posted on:Nov 302009
1 hour out of Shanghai and somewhere over the South China Sea two fellow passengers got into a confrontation. I probably would have overlooked it had I not been trying to get some badly needed rest. The whole incident came about as a result of a passenger trying to retain control over two adjoining seats while the other man thought it was his right to lay claim to the seats. Even though the other passenger had assigned seats he also wanted to gain a bit of additional real estate. Any of you that travel long distances in coach can appreciate the added comfort of an additional seat. As the saga unfolded and the name calling commenced I quickly realized that what started off as mutual personal need had escalated into how different cultures interact when placed under stress. To my surprise the name calling started with the man from the East and not from the Westerner. Usually a culture that prides itself in having dignity and decorum had turned this person into a severely agitated and ready to wage mortal combat individual. In retracing the series of events I realized that simple gestures, piecing looks and condescending name calling contributed to the heightened state. I also surmised that some in most harbored bigotry, manifested by the names that were used, created the persistence and undercurrent that was displayed. As things got more and more tense, and I was losing valuable sleep, my restraint could no longer be contained. Little did I realize that years of working global allowed me to take action in a very direct and effective fashion. Instinct pointed me in the direction of the right person, utilizing the right approach and cultural form to diffuse the situation and return things to a less heated stated. I half expected that the opposite would occur but it didn’t, both returned to the seats and no further measures were required.