A Sweet Surprise

On a recent flight from Los Angeles to Denver, a little girl strolled up the aisle with her father in tow. She was passing out to each of the passenger little baggies filled with candy.

My initial instinct was to be careful. I mean, my father taught me not to take candy from strangers. But then I flipped over the baggie and saw a short note inside:

Hi Fellow Passenger!

My name is Jayde and I am 5 years old and my brother Nathan is 5 months old. We are on our first flight! We apologize in advance if we cry here and there; just know our parents are doing the best they can to keep us cool! (They’re more nervous then we are!) We hope you enjoy a few sweets we packed you!

Safe travels!

“Ahhhh, clever girl!” I thought to myself. From a Reputation Management perspective, the family deserves lots of respect. Had they thought through all the aspects of how to be proactive and effectively manage a potentially uncomfortable situation? (A baby crying on a plane isn’t a “crisis,” but the same rules apply.)

A few people jested, “Where are the earplugs?” (How ungrateful. Had no one ever told them it’s not nice to look a gift horse in the mouth?)

It’s actually wise that the family hadn’t included earplugs because they have a negative connotation. They’re often accompanied with an annoyed grimace and associated with blocking out the bad (construction noise, a significant other who snores, etc.) At the other end of the spectrum is candy. It brings a sense of joy/happiness and is often accompanied by smiles.

The note was smart.

First, it managed expectations. The parents knew there was a high probability that one (if not both) of their children would let out a yelp of discomfort. So they didn’t over-promise by saying they’d keep their kids quiet. They were realistic and showed they were going to make an honest effort.

Second, it told a story. It brought the readers into the lives of this young family and invited us along on their journey. Sharing details about themselves humanized them. Passengers could now root for the young parents who were trying desperately to get their kids through this new experience.

Third, it was thoughtful and unexpected. It’s hard to get mad at someone if they’ve taken the extra effort to show you they understand how their actions might make you feel. (In contrast, how many times have you been on a flight and seen the exact opposite?)

What if you don’t like candy, or can’t eat it? Doesn’t matter. It’s the thought that counts. You can always turn around and share it with the person next to you, or with someone else in your life you know will enjoy it.

And if you’re just the grumpy sort who can’t find the happiness in anything, anywhere — you need to check your perspective on life and read Mark Jaffe’s book Suitcase of Happyness.


“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Prep. More than half a century of expertise working with clients to resolve issues both in and outside the media’s glare — in their professional and personal lives.

You can reach Roger Gillott and Eden Gillott Bowe directly at 310-396-8696.

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3 thoughts on “A Sweet Surprise

  1. Acting through their fear, what the adults did was an act of good parenting. When nervous, anxious, or frightened, it always (yes, always) helps reduce fear to think about other people. Fear gets encapsulated by thoughts of others. We get out of our own way when we think less about ourselves. The candy trick probably worked for the parents and the children, as well as doing and end-run around future resentment of their fellow passengers.

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