Safety Publications/Articles

How to say 'no'

Have you ever come across someone you just didn't care to fly with? The fact is that it's perfectly reasonable for you not to want enter the cockpit with some individuals (I'll let you pick the reason). Sure, there are times when you have a moral obligation to tell a person why you don't want to fly with him or her, but I'm not referring to this type of situation. I'm talking about a situation where you just don't feel comfortable flying with -- or continuing to fly with -- a specific individual. The question is, how do you say no to such a person?

Over the years, when I've encountered a few situations like this, I've often found it useful to say something like, "Bob, I don't believe that I'm the best instructor for you. I'd like you to consider flying with another instructor." If you've flown with this person and conclude that a repeat performance is not in order, say something like, "Bob, hopefully you found value in the time we spent together, but now I think it's appropriate for you to benefit from the insights that other instructors could offer."

Experience taught me that in some of these situations there was nothing to be gained from telling the person the reason for my decision. Long ago I realized that not everyone needs to know the nitty-gritty truth about the choices we make. Sometimes the choice is our personal business. On the other hand, if and when it's possible to provide a reason to the student for your choice and the explanation is likely to produce a positive response, then do so. If you think that an explanation would produce a negative effect without any benefit, then I recommend that you keep your reasons to yourself.

By Rod Machado

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