Back before our mate COVID came along, I took a couple of flights with terrible turbulence.

I was flying from Auckland, New Zealand back to Sydney and I got the same flight two weeks in a row. Both trips were very bumpy, but with quite different outcomes.

On the first flight the captain came on the radio and, in his calm and confident voice, explained that we were about to go through a large amount of turbulence. He went into \detail explaining the cause and assured us the cockpit crew had tried their best to avoid it.

Sure enough, we soon hit a big bumpy patch and the aircraft felt like it was bouncing around. Interestingly, because the captain had warned us about it, nobody seemed concerned; passengers appeared to be calmly enjoying the flight as best they could.

A week later I again flew from Auckland to Sydney, on the same flight number as the previous week. We hit turbulence again, but this time without warning. With a different pilot, we didn’t get any kind of notice about the rocky weather ahead.

It was fascinating to see the different reactions in the cabin as we bounced around. Some people looked extremely uncomfortable, others were gripping the armrests in fear and there were even occasional audible gasps.

What a contrast to that first flight, where we had forewarning!

There’s a clear lesson for us here.

Whether you’re a leader or someone who wants to improve your relationships with colleagues, follow the example of that first pilot. We often hit turbulence in the workplace (aren’t we going through an enormous patch of it right now!) whether it’s with a tricky project, a sensitive issue or a dissatisfied client.

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In many cases, we know we’re heading for a rocky patch, so why not raise the issue or concern ahead of time?

I encourage you to take the initiative and communicate proactively, so people know what to expect. If you wait for the problem to escalate – like the second captain – people will react very differently.

Top business and career coaches at Forbes, suggest, “It’s easy to get caught up in the firefighting, but to be proactive, you need to find some time for fire prevention.”

This principle applies to significant issues in the workplace, but also to your everyday activities. Alerting your team to a concern ahead of time – rather than catching them unawares – will help your colleagues or employees later on.

It’s human nature for us to react in a more positive way if we know what’s ahead of us. As US non-verbal communication expert Michael Grinder says, “Surprises make functional people dysfunctional!”

The views expressed in the article are that of the author and not of the publisher or its management.

This article is authored by Dr.Neryl East. She is a keynote speaker and expert facilitator who delivers workshops, programs and services on all aspects of communication, credibility, reputation. Dr. East works with leaders and teams who want to stand out, accelerate their success and avoid costly reputation mistakes.

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