Air Force Professionals don't take their marbles and go home

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Pete York
  • 39 Air Base Wing Inspector General
I hate to be a wet blanket, but I've noticed some rather disturbing trends with our town hall meeting etiquette. This certainly is not an end-of-the-world-type issue, but since we're having these meetings on a monthly - or more frequently than that!--basis, we need to remember to, well, put our napkin in our lap and chew with our mouth closed.

Colonel McDaniel, 39th Air Base Wing commander, has elected to hold town hall meetings as an informal way of getting important information to all of us. These meetings allow our commander to reach out to spouses, civilians and military, while at the same time encouraging a free-flow of information and keeping the rumor-mill under control. But, while these meetings are by their very nature meant to be informal and casual, we are still professionals and should always conduct ourselves accordingly.

To those who would ask questions at these meetings or anywhere else, for that matter, I offer the following suggestions:

Stand. State your name and organization. Speak slowly and clearly for those of us who are hard of hearing or are standing in the back of the room

Ask a pertinent question; that is, make your question one that is relevant to many, not just yourself. After all, you're not the only one in the audience.

Throw in a 'sir' or 'ma'am.'

Unless directed otherwise, remain standing while the question is answered.

Carefully consider any desire you have to re-attack the issue; you can always ask for clarification, but proceed cautiously on the "But, sir..." You only get one of these: do you want to use it up in this forum?

If the answer you receive is not the one you hoped to hear, do not get up and walk out. This looks too much like you're "taking your marbles and going home," and, quite honestly, it's rude and unprofessional

The bottom line here is that even though the atmosphere may be informal, when we speak to senior officers with an audience present, we should not be. Customs and courtesies are crucial to the smooth and efficient running of our Air Force and apply everywhere, at all times. Customs and courtesies also solidify the bond we all share as Airmen. Let's do ourselves and our fellow Airmen a favor and lead by example. We owe it to each other and those who have served before us.