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Careful — your character is showing!

It was reported today that a Southwest Airlines pilot was suspended for remarks he made in the cockpit of a plane. What he thought was a private conversation was broadcast around the world because he didn’t realize he was on an open mic. I have a couple thoughts!

First, a quick thought to the pilot. Fly the plane! On behalf of anyone who spends any time in the air — we’d be much more comfortable knowing you were spending your time in the cockpit focused on navigating the plane and less time focused on the weight, age, or sexual orientation of your co-workers. Fly the plane! Some talking heads today have argued that you were paying attention. Since your mic was hot and you didn’t realize it, either you aren’t very smart or you weren’t paying attention. Neither of these options is acceptable if you’re flying my plane.

Second, a quick thought about open mics. As a professional speaker, I’m often “wired” with a wireless microphone before a presentation. Almost without exception, some stranger will walk up and say, “Careful what you say. That thing may be on!” I’m often amazed at the concern people have for open mics. It’s as though everyone is running around saying inappropriate things when they think their conversation is private. People will put on a good face and say all the right things when they think others aren’t listening. Truth is, we probably learn more about someone’s true character when they think the mic is turned off.

Here’s a challenge. Treat every conversation over the next week as though the mic is on, and then see how many times it adjusts the content of your conversation. None of us can ever claim to be perfect, but we’ll find it holds us all to a higher standard.


Clint Swindall

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