It is obvious that everyone is different, meaning, some people seem to behave or perform in different ways from others. Although some observable differences are due to cases that people find themselves in rather than personal traits, there are still clearly more stable and permanent differences that exist between people.
Most of these differences root from people’s personality characteristics and cultural heritage. That feed each other regarding to personal differences.
In multicultural environments, such as flight crew operations, one should not be necessarily from a foreign country or a culture, even in big countries such as Turkey, people may display culturally different attitudes depending on their local regions.
However, a professional airman must show standard behavioral patterns in order to excecute safe flight operations no matter what how different they are from the others.
Personalities differ in many ways, some peple are impulsive, and sociable, whereas some are withdrawn and cautious. Sociable people are emotionally stable, comparatively more understanding and subtle, on the contrary, cautious people are inclined to be more anxious and stressful in the flght deck, particularly under high workload conditions. Surely both have some pros and cons, however standard attitude patterns will prevent any kind of conflict, especially for over cautious and anxious people.
Besides, person’s agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience will help big time in achieving normal attitudes in the cockpit.
Given this basic piece of academic information, it is nice to know that culturally or personally everybody has some values that form the personality. Being aware of these different personal values will help to devise a professional and sociable cockpit climate in the flight operations.
Normally these values differ in four forms:
1. Power Distance (PDI) – Everyone has his own personal distance to shelter in.
2. Individualism versus Collectivism (IDV) – This is the difference between the value put on individual
needs and the value put on group (team) needs. Western societies are often observed to be high in
terms of individualism.
3. Masculinity versus Femininity (MAS) – A masculine society is the one that values such as assertive and
materialism, whereas feminine societies are more submissive and cooperative.
4. Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI) – This is the extent to which people avoid uncertain and ambiguous
Knowing these 4 forms of personality traits will help us to locate the role of CRM. Buying in large, CRM deals with these personal differences and tries to understand different personalities in order to ensure flight safety and obscure personal controversies that may provoke a conflict in the cockpit, which would create a hazardous cockpit climate. Humans may sometimes perceive personal differences as a threat to his own personal values, and/or authority.
For instance, although assertiveness is encouraged in CRM, a proper assertive behaviour may be regarded as an insult by the other individual in the cockpit.
So what should we do as a pilot in the cockpit?
- Behaviour breeds behaviour, be nice but not too nice. A welcoming handshake at FWZ could be a good start.
- Always try to understand, if in doubt, ask politely.
- Do not argue political or disputable topics that could undermine one’s values in the cockpit.
- Do not patronize people, be a team member
- Always try to be calm and understand before you react.
- Focus on standard airman behaviours.
- Understand cultural differences and behave accordingly, if something really bothers you, clearify.
- Do not argue on personal differences.
- Use personal conflict management skills, minimize personal conversation, focus on flight duties, if you feel like not in the same mood. Remember you don’t have to be a good social friend, but you must be a strong and safe team player and a safe airman.
- If things really go out of hand, act professionally, resume your duties and give a feedback to the management after flight, unless that jeopardizes flight safety.
After all, we all have cultural and personal differences that may cause behavioral conflict on board. This is quite normal and could happen in anywhere, any flight and in any company.
However, we must use conflict management skills, be open to a professional and sincere dialogue, be more understanding and patient and always try to stay on the safe side in our flight operations.
Dr. Cpt. M. Melih Başdemir