Launching The Emergency Slide

There’s been lots of chatter last week about a certain flight attendant launching the emergency slide inappropriately. Which begs an interesting question: When should you deploy yours?

Drama aside, sometimes it’s appropriate to make a hasty exit from your client.

You (or your team) don’t get no respect. I’m not talking about checking a blackberry during a meeting, but hard core bad behavior to you, your team or your client’s team. Belittling, berating or threatening are not OK. Cut those folks loose if you can’t immediately turn them around.

Ethics have taken a holiday. Sometimes, big change (think mergers, layoffs, bet-the-career lawsuits) tempts clients to do things they’d never consider under other circumstances. Help them get their bearings back and coach them through hard change but don’t follow (or tacitly support) their ethical lapses.

The dog ate my homework. You’re working on a critical project that requires collaboration with your client—data access, emails, approvals, meetings. There’s always an excuse why something can’t be done by the due date (often including getting your bills paid.) This is a client who frequently fails—don’t let them torpedo your work.

Launching the emergency slide—sometimes, it’s the best option.


  • Anonymous

    This happens with internal customers as well. A few years back, I had problems with internal customers being abusive to my team. I took a few of the calls to listen to what was happening. I told my employees that I was not interested in the once in a while problems (everyone has a bad day once in a while), but the hardcore time after time abuse.

    Once I got the names, I started calling managers and complaining. We got some apologies, I was asked to write up formal documentation for a few, and some called my boss to complain.

    After two rounds of this, the abusive attitudes to my employees dropped way off. I was mad having to be put in a spot like that, but I was even more mad that my employees were getting so little respect unless I escalated the problem.

    – dogear6 (Nancy S.)

  • Robin Dickinson

    Well done, Rochelle. An excellent example of the importance of having a strong 'NO' and knowing when to use it.

    Best, Robin

  • Ed Rosenbaum

    You take pertinent subjects and put a twist to them that makes me think much ddeper than i had hoped this late in the day.
    I also wrote a blog this morning on and a thread on a Linkedin discussion related to this news item regarding the Flight Attendant.
    While i don't agree with his actions; I vertainly understand the "why" of it.
    I learned many years ago to always look for the next client to replace the client you just secured. That way when you have to jettison a client you already have the replacement. It does not always work out the way I planned. but for the most part it works.

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Nancy–Good for you for standing up for your people! That's what real leaders do–I'd be willing to bet you cemented some life-long relationships with your team through that debacle…

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Thanks Robin,
    Saying no can be very powerful, eh? Best to you and the Centurians….

  • Rochelle Moulton

    Hi Ed,
    I just tracked down your blog post on Mr Slater–couldn't agree more. There is something about being on an airplane that can make people feel trapped.

    Independence is always key for consultants (i.e. other paying clients), so we never feel pressured to collude with our client or support bad behavior. Good system you've got worked out!


  • Corey Bearak

    Great points and always an interesting question when that point gets reached.

  • Judy Muller

    Rochelle….As a new consultant chick, I am encouraged by your post. It is never OK to work without boundaries, even when we all need to get paid. In the end, the client will respect you more for pulling the handle, and respecting yourself. Good stuff!
    Judy Muller

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