There is no such thing as a perfect trip, a perfect day, a perfect relationship, or a perfect person. As the saying goes, one person’s ceiling is another person’s floor. In other words, perception is key. When it comes to Flight Attendants, what was a perfectly satisfactory trip to one may have been a living nightmare to the coworker on the other side of the cart. Too often, a bad trip can be attributed to conflict with our colleagues.
Conflict occurs when our expectations of others, our job performance goals and objectives, and our priorities are not shared or agreed upon. Hopefully, our differences will be few. Should they arise, we can discuss them openly and resolve our conflicts without delay or company intervention. The APFA Professional Standards Representative at your base is available to facilitate conflict resolution by reflecting our concerns to our fellow Flight Attendants before the problems deteriorate into unmanageable turmoil on the airplane – or even escalate into action by the company.
The APFA Professional Standards Representatives for each base can be contacted by leaving a message at their voice mail extensions. They are trained and skilled listeners and are willing to help Flight Attendants understand the perception of others regarding their performance on duty. Professional Standards Representatives are line Flight Attendants, so your message may not be returned immediately if they are on a trip. In an emergency, contact your Base Chair or Vice Chair or the APFA Health Department at Headquarters.
The Professional Standards Representatives will listen with a non-judgmental ear and reflect back their understanding of the problem. They will discuss with you the procedures and policies that are standards of practice and plan a means of presenting these perceptions to the Flight Attendant. As a neutral third party, they can report or relay the observations to the other party without threat of discipline. Information reported to Professional Standards is confidential, except in those rare instances of a threat of harm to another person that there is reason to believe might be carried out.
If the information reported involves another workgroup, Professional Standards can direct you to the appropriate resource (for example, APA Professional Standards for assistance with resolving a conflict with a Pilot). If the report contains information about safety violations, drug or alcohol use on duty, or sexual harassment, the Representative may ask for guidance from other APFA resources.
If you receive a Professional Standards call, there are several ways that you may respond. Like any other feedback, you may consider the information in the following ways:
Think about why the reporting Flight Attendant called Professional Standards and decide that the information was not well meaning and discard it.
Determine that the information may be valuable but not relative or useful at this time. File it away so that you can think about the feedback or take action later. Everyone has her/his priorities and things like family or work responsibilities may have to come first.
Listen to the information, decide how to make adjustments in behaviors, and be thankful for the concern shown by others.
All feedback can be a gift. The Professional Standards Representatives are very conscientious. They are dedicated to improving our workplace environment. Every one of them knows what it is like to make a very difficult call, only to be rebuffed by the recipient. They perform this very important function because they know that without this internal tool there is a strong possibility that information reported to them will eventually be reported by someone to a Flight Service Manager. They are rewarded when they know that arbitrary discipline or even more conflict is avoided. The best response they can hear is “thank you.”
Professional Standards is a great way to start to get involved in union work. It is a very difficult job, but the rewards are the knowledge you gain about yourself and the thanks from your fellow Union Representatives. Sometimes you even receive the gratitude of other Flight Attendants. If you wish to be involved, contact your Base Chair.