In This Career, Attitude is Everything

During the summer of 2017, I had a fight from Seattle to Shanghai.  Because this flight was so long, there were 4 pilots on the trip- two captains and two first officers.  We were always paired together with a specific captain, so there was no mixing and matching done with who was flying with who.  Me and my captain volunteered to be the relief pilots and do the first and third break and let the other crew have the middle break, which meant they would have the takeoff and landing and the super nice, long middle break.

This was one of my favorite areas to visit in Shanghai.

The Pearl Tower is impressive!

During one of the crew swaps I was alone with the other captain for a few minutes.  He had some pretty strong 'opinions' to say to/about me.  They were not nice things at all. I was professional towards him, but his words got under my skin. For days.  Thankfully, he was not the captain I was paired with, so I didn't have to spend too much time with him. I was, however, going to have to be up in the flight deck with him again at the end of the flight, and I never wanted to see his face again.  


Weeks after this trip, while chatting with my chief pilot, he told me that this captain had emailed him to tell him his 'concerns' about my attitude and appearance. Wait, what? He emailed my chief? It was really strange. As a pilot, I'd always felt like a part of a team, but he was the exact opposite of a teammate. My chief said his claims were pretty ridiculous and that I shouldn't worry about it, so I tried not to let this captain get in my head.


The very next trip after talking with my chief, guess who I was scheduled to fly with (quite last minute)... yep... that same captain.  But this time it was a multiple day trip.  I wanted to call in sick when I found out (even though I was already at the airport when I realized I would be flying with him), but I chose not to.  Instead, I had some serious self talk.  I was going to pretend like I had no idea he emailed my chief, pretend like he'd never said anything to me, and I was going to treat him like he was my favorite captain to fly with.  I did just that, and you know what?  It worked!  He was pleasant, and kind, and we actually had a pretty good trip together.  He said I was a great pilot after our last leg and that he enjoyed working with me.

From the first trip I flew with him to the second, he was a completely different person.  Though I've always known that attitude is everything, it was proven to me again.  If you are having a difficult time with a co-worker, is there anything you could do to change the situation?  Could you treat them differently, or look at them in a different light?  Give it a try because it could make all the difference.