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THE INC. LIFE

This Woman Threw a Fit When an Airline Employee Refused to Call Her ‘Doctor.’ Here’s How the Airline Responded

The airline recognized a simple, fundamental truth: Titles don’t mean anything in the real world. Actions do.

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BY Justin Bariso - 07 Sep 2018

This Woman Threw a Fit When an Airline Employee Refused to Call Her 'Doctor.' Here's How the Airline Responded

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Usually, when an airline passenger's complaint goes viral, the public sides with the passenger.

Not this time, though.

It seems that University of Exeter lecturer Siobhan O'Dwyer did not enjoy her recent trip with Qantas airlines. According to O'Dwyer, before getting on the plane a flight attendant looked over her boarding pass--which was printed with the name "Dr. O'Dwyer"--and decided instead to address her as "Miss O'Dwyer."

"Hey @Quantas," Ms. O'Dwyer tweeted. "My name is Dr O'Dwyer. My ticket says Dr O'Dwyer. Do not look at my ticket, look at me, look back at my ticket, decide it's a typo, and call me Miss O'Dwyer. I did not spend 8 years at university to be called Miss."

Oooh. That's not a good look.

It seems like many were thinking the same thing, because two days later, O'Dwyer later tweeted the following:

"Copping so much flack for this tweet. This was not about my ego. It was about highlighting one of a thousand instances of sexism that women encounter every day. It's not about the title, it's about the fact that this wouldn't have happened if I was a man."

When asked for comment, Qantas delivered a statement on their crew's behavior in general (as reported by Yahoo):

"We are extremely proud of our cabin crew who respectfully serve our customers day in and day out and play a vital safety role. Our crew treat all passengers with the utmost respect, regardless of age, gender, and occupation."

Kudos to Qantas for striving to show respect for all, and for realizing a fundamental truth:

Titles don't mean anything in the real world. Actions do.

How to earn the respect of others

First of all, to O'Dwyer's credit, she may have a point (regarding her second tweet). I've witnessed how men and women of the same position or circumstances are treated completely differently. And I agree that it's not fair.

But the first tweet totally destroyed any credibility in making that point.

I personally have a number of colleagues who hold PhD's, both men and women. I respect them all for their years of study and the expertise they hold in their respective subjects. At times, I call them doctor--usually when engaging with them in their particular field of study.

But this situation had nothing to do with a particular field of study. This was a passenger in an airport, getting ready to board an airplane with other passengers.

And here's the problem: Too many people today feel their title, accomplishments, or past experiences shoot them to an elevated position. But titles and degrees mean nothing in the real world. The school you graduated from, how long you studied, even what you've accomplished since then--none of this is relevant to your relationships with others.

In contrast, respect begets respect. How do you treat others? Do you look down on them? Or do you focus on their good points? Do you look to praise them, to show appreciation?

Using emotional intelligence in this way can completely change the way situations like this play out.

Surely, it isn't easy to work in a service industry like the airline business, with countless demanding customers. The Qantas employee may have been having a bad day; yet, they still used the term "Miss," an expression of respect. Imagine how differently things could have gone if Ms. O'Dwyer had acknowledged the employee, and showed appreciation for their hard work?

How do you think the employee would have treated her then?

Remember: When you allow yourself to get offended so easily, you only set yourself up to be in a perpetual bad mood. You rob yourself of joy and happiness.

Instead, try cultivating an "attitude of gratitude." Show some empathy.

Because by looking for the best in others, you'll earn the respect you're looking for.

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