The greatest gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy but do we really use it? Well, Sejal Suresh Maurya does!
Many think flying to another city is just part and parcel of life but every person has a different reason for boarding a flight. A family may have saved money for a year to plan a trip to Dubai, some might be going to meet their friends, or a businessperson may be heading for a business meeting but one thing that stays common here is – they are stuck in a confined space and a completely strange environment for a few hours.
To sense someone’s discomfort and emotions is the real job. It’s all easy to switch on the auto-pilot but the ones who empathise with the passengers are the ones doing the real job. This brings us to the story of Sejal Suresh Maurya who masters the art of empathy and kindness.
Why did you choose to become a cabin crew?
I never dreamt of becoming a cabin crew in the first place. After completing my higher secondary education, I started exploring different career opportunities. One day, one of my friends suggested me to explore the crew. I hardly knew anything about it. But when I researched it, I got attracted to this glamorous world. That’s when I made up my mind about it.
I come from a family of farmers where no girl had ever thought of going into this profession. That being the case, it was challenging to convince my father but things eventually worked out.
My entry into this profession wasn’t easy. The airline I went to seek out a job in, told me that they can’t recruit me because I had a scar on my forehead but at some point, I felt that the personality I have and my communication skills can take me there. I didn’t lose hope and kept trying. Eventually, HR agreed to put me on a trial. I cracked the exam and eventually got what I dreamt of.
How has your experience been as a cabin crew? What’s the worst & the sweetest thing a passenger has ever told you?
I experience new things every day. Every time I engage with a passenger, it’s a different experience. While there are regular passengers, I often see first-time flyers too.
One of my best experiences has been when I was flying from Mumbai to Bhopal. A passenger was flying with her infant. As per the protocols, if the infant is less than two years old, we must ensure they are comfortable. The baby had chocolate with her which she had brought for somebody. When she was getting off with her mother, she smiled at me and gave me her chocolate. That feeling of receiving chocolate from an infant was so heartwarming that it defies any description.
There have been some bad experiences too. I remember serving coffee to a couple. Because the flight was turbulent, I accidentally dropped it on my palm. The girl asked me if I was okay. Immediately, her partner said, “This is her job, leave it!”. Those words were heart-wrenching but I have learnt to ignore such things over the course of time because I can’t let such things impact my career.
What role does empathy play in your profession?
Being a crew, it’s all about empathy. How you see people, help them, and make them comfortable is very important. There are people who fly for the first time and hesitate to ask for help. Even if they need water, they don’t ask for it. It’s our duty as crew to make them feel comfortable.
If I feel somebody needs help, I don’t wait for them to call me. I rush to help and always try to empathise with them.
What are your future plans? Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
It’s been only a year since I am flying. I absolutely love my profession. I enjoy it thoroughly. After ten years, I am not sure what I will be doing career-wise but I want to see myself in a position where I am happy with my family. I can only create a better future for myself by creating a good present.
We should not do something just for the sake of doing it as it takes us nowhere. I believe that one should love what they are doing.
What would be your advice to aspiring flight attendants?
First and foremost, you have to give what it takes. Do not stop believing in yourself. You may get rejected once, twice, or thrice but if you keep working hard and focus on your goals, you will get it one day.