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judgmental question and lets mechanic Mike know that supervisor Stan is looking to help, not hinder his situation. Taking the discussion away from the work environment means no interruptions or distractions, and no chance of “prying ears” hearing Mike talk about what’s on his mind. If he replies “nothing, everything is OK”, do not despair. A follow-up question like “Are you sure? You don’t seem to be yourself today. You are usually happy to help others,” or something similar is usually enough to break the ice.


This behavior transfers accountability from the one performing the offensive behaviors to the person receiving the behaviors. It also sends a message that these hostile actions are acceptable, and perhaps even encouraged. As mechanic Molly works on the plane, mechanic Vernon comes up behind her and says, “Aw, come on, you are using that wrench like a girl! Put some muscle into it!” He laughs and walks off, leaving Molly insulted and fuming with anger. When Molly tells supervisor Alan about it, Alan’s response is “Oh yeah, Vernon does that to everyone. Just forget about it. Vernon has always done that. He means it as a compliment.”

Supervisor Alan’s options are: 1. Ignore mechanic Molly’s complaints and leave mechanic

Vernon alone. This option sends a message to Vernon that his behavior is acceptable. As such, he will be encouraged to repeat this behavior and supervisor Alan is not giving him any reason to change that behavior.

2. Tell mechanic Molly to avoid mechanic Vernon. See Option No. 1 above.

3. Call mechanic Molly into his office to explain to her that she needs to ‘toughen up’ and get a ‘thicker skin.’ After all, this is a hangar — she chose this profession and this industry, so she needs to learn to ignore those type of comments. See Option No. 1 above. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)

4. Listen to mechanic Molly’s complaints with an open mind. Acknowledge her anger. Ask questions such as “What does his <words or actions> mean to you?”, “Why does that bother you so much?”(said in an inquisitive, non- demeaning manner), and “Why do you think he said that?” Imagine yourself in that situation. What would you like your boss to say to you?

5. Have a talk with mechanic Vernon. If you do not express your displeasure (and perhaps taking additional action that will affect him), he will continue to harass his colleagues. Who knows? You might lose them and, in today’s marketplace, not be able to replace them quickly or with the same caliber of skills.

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MR./MS. KNOW IT ALL They have the very best solution to any and all challenges and do not hesitate in sharing that information (including the history and the “why”) with everyone. They also can be unaware of the rolling eyes and other signs of disinterest from their colleagues. In a team meeting, mechanic Dean explains a procedure he recently used. Mechanic Lionel chimes in with his commentary, interrupting Dean’s every other word. Lionel proceeds to explain, in detail, underlying reasons why the procedure works and why other procedures don’t work. The meeting runs later than scheduled and less was accomplished than what was needed. Unfortunately, Lionel continues his sermon throughout the day.

You, as mechanic Lionel’s director, have the following options: 1. Ignore mechanic Lionel’s actions. This option sends a message to mechanic Lionel that his behavior is acceptable. As such, he will be encouraged to repeat this behavior. You, as the director, are not giving him any reason to change that behavior.


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