Paul, the flight attendant was so shocked at my question, he crunched down beside me at just stared.   “No one has ever asked me that before,” he said.

What was this shocking, paralyzing question I asked him?

“What is the most beautiful, loving, caring thing you have ever seen while in flight?”

“People always want to know the craziest thing, but no one ever wants to know this and I am embarrassed to say I can’t think of anything.”

“Don’t worry, just let the question sit for a bit, something will come to you.” I said.

Paul did come back and was excited to report; that he has seen many first-class passengers give up their seats for military personnel and he told me that he often would blow up a latex glove and write on it and present it as an award to the passenger with the best smile or who made the flight pleasant.

Paul was so intrigued by the question he set out to ask the pilots and his colleagues the same questions, in fact, he even posted it on a Facebook flight attendant page.

Megan posted, “People paying for drinks for other people, buying headsets for children… a couple of weeks ago we were full boarded & unfortunately had to remove 2 standbys. When we told them the situation, 2 fare paying guests offered to stay behind instead as they had a house in that destination & it wouldn’t cost them anything to spend another night. Also, an older guest gave a co-worker a hand-knit scarf that she made on the flight the other day because the co-worker had mentioned that her mom used to knit beautiful scarves & she had passed. How thoughtful.”

Brandon said he buys a drink for anyone whose having a birthday.

Roberta postd, “Just recently there was a CRYING toddler on board and another passenger lent the parents her iPad where she had downloaded cartoons for HER grandkids, she said their crying little guy needed it more!!”

And one pilot said he got a phone number once!  I’m not sure if that counts? 

Patti said, “A gentleman flying on Christmas eve went into the bathroom and Santa Claus came out ho-ho-hoing down the aisle, chatting and giving all the passengers' candy canes. This story happened 20 years ago and I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it, it was magical!”  Patti said just by me asking this question, it changed the why she was thinking and, in fact, the entire course of her day which she had anticipated to be long and grueling.

Because of these ideas given to me, I was able to do something nice on a flight, that I never would have thought of, I had the opportunity to give up my upgraded first-class seat for a member of the military.

It was an early morning flight and before we took off I asked the flight attendant to go back and choose someone in uniform to take my seat. She was delighted and come up with a young man. The man barely gave me eye contact and didn’t utter a word of thanks.

That’s okay, I did good and felt good about it as I made my way to the back of the plane. Halfway into the flight the attendant came back and gave a heartfelt thanks on behalf of this man, she said he was so confused, he didn’t realize what was happening, but he was very appreciative.

That was nice.

As we made our way into the airport terminal, the young man was waiting for me.  He shook my hand and thanked me profusely. He said the last time someone asked him to change seats it was because they didn’t want to sit beside their neighbor and he thought he was being punished until he saw the seat and then he couldn’t believe I gave that seat up to him. Turns out he was heading back to bootcamp after being home for the holidays and watching the birth of his new daughter. He only got to spend two days with his newborn – no wonder he was in a daze.

What small gesture can you do to thank one on behalf of many? Whether they appreciate it like you think they ‘should’ doesn’t matter – what matters is that you do it.

What question can you ask that could change the course of the entire interaction you are having?

These questions drive home the need for Appreciative Inquiry (A.I.). As Bliss Browne describes, “A.I. deliberately asks positive questions around affirmative topics to ignite constructive dialogue and inspired action within organizations and communities. Change research shows that community innovation methods that evoke stories, and affirm and compel groups of people to envision positive images of the future grounded in the best of the past, have the greatest potential to produce deep and sustaining change and inspire collective action.”

Find out more about A.I. here

For now, just start the dialogue with a question that will lead the other person to answer with a positive response. It just may change the entire trajectory of the conversation and inspire you to take an action you may not have thought of before.

Let me know how it goes!  Steph 


Stephanie  Staples

Stephanie Staples

Your Revitalization Specialist

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