Isn’t it entertaining when a viral video sparks an international debate? Was the dress gold or blue? Did it say Yanny or Laurel? Did he swing toward the building or away from it?

A video of an airline passenger repeatedly hitting the reclined seatback of the passenger in front of him has become the latest source of debate, thrusting the issue of seat reclining etiquette into the pop culture spotlight. Like the other viral videos, the issue has divided viewers.

Some argue that passengers have the right to recline their seat. They paid for their seat and should be able to recline if they choose. Others argue that reclined seats are intrusive to the fellow passengers. Reclined seats prevent people from using the tray or doing work on a laptop computer.

Both sides have valid points, which is why the issue is controversial.

CNN aired a segment yesterday morning where panelists opined about the permissibility of passengers reclining airplane seats. During the segment, panelist Oneika Raymond, from the Travel Channel’s Big City, Little Budget, made a statement that made me cringe.

Raymond was asked if she was going to think twice about reclining her seat after watching the video. Without hesitation, Raymond responded: “Absolutely not. I don’t understand why I should sacrifice my comfort for the comfort of the stranger behind me?”

Her response was tantamount to hearing fingernails scraping a chalkboard. Teams fail when members think like Oneika Raymond. Her response epitomizes ME gear logic.

Good teammates—individuals in the WE gear—are always considerate of others. They think about how their actions affect those around them and proceed accordingly. Good teammates willingly sacrifice their comfort for the comfort of others.

If the person sitting behind Raymond wasn’t a stranger, I wonder if she would still think the same way? What if the person sitting behind her was her grandmother? Her daughter? Her pastor? Would Raymond still be as inclined to recline?

Unfortunately, most of us don’t extend the same level of kindness to strangers as we do our friends and family. But the world sure would be a better place if everyone did.

Maybe Raymond’s familiarity with the person sitting behind her is inconsequential. Maybe she’s so self-centered that she prioritizes her comfort over the comfort of everyone else. Most toxic personalities do.

While I can’t condone how the other passenger chose to convey his disapproval of the reclined seat, I find Raymond’s justification for reclining the seat to be far more unsettling. Why should I sacrifice my comfort for the comfort of others?

Her way of thinking is selfish and unfathomable to a good teammate. Good teammates are kind. They know that kindness comes with a price tag. The price of kindness is the sacrifice of comfort.

When you sacrifice your comfort for the comfort and/or convenience of someone else, you deliver kindness. Your sacrifice becomes a catalyst for success. Teams that are comprised of individuals who understand this approach exceed their potential.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is the founder and CEO of the Good Teammate Factory. He is a college basketball coach turned author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.


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