Don’t Strangle Your Coworkers During a Business Trip!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ll be focusing on relationships this month which will make for some fun blog content (V-Day gift ideas, anyone?). When we say relationships, we’re not just referring to the romantic variety. The fact that you probably spend the majority of your time away from home (85% of men and 67% of women log over 40 hours in the workplace each week) is reason enough to make sure you’ve got a good thing going with your coworkers. Especially if you’re regularly leaving the office to take business trips together.

The most important tip to keeping the peace is paying attention to boundaries! Don’t cozy up to your coworkers on the plane or bus. We get it: You might not know anyone else and want to sit close to familiar faces, but your cube mates that spend 8+ hours per day with you might see it as intrusive and secretly hope for some distance. Sharing a room at the hotel, too? Even more reason to let them listen to their podcast in peace.

On the other hand, getting to know your coworkers in less confined quarters can greatly enhance your overall business travel experience. Traveling gives you the opportunity to see someone on a more human level, flaws and all. In fact, that’s partly why many relationship experts suggest traveling with a significant other before getting serious with that person. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you don’t get to phase out your comrades the same way; so you’d better make the most of your mealtimes together.

You’ll probably be eating in hotels or restaurants together for most of your meals. Give yourself and your coworkers a break by avoiding shop talk unless you’re dining with a client, and take the time to open up more personal questions. But keep it as professional as possible, please–No need to discuss relationship squabbles or your child’s recent stomach bug.

About that whole going out thing: Don’t drink too much when you’re dining with coworkers! You’re likely to spill some details you would never divulge if you were sober. Everyone has his or her alcohol limit that they know to be their version of too much. Listen to that rule and then cut that amount in half.

Be adaptable because you won’t be traveling on your own time; roll with the punches and realize that you’re there for work. If you’re working with clients, try not to project the personal stresses of sharing a room with a snoring coworker and eating unhealthy road food onto your client. That client is the reason you’re there, enjoying a new setting and experience on company time: Show gratitude.

Prepare for your trip well ahead of the departure date. You’ll have much more pleasant interactions if you feel your best in clothes that fit and flatter you well and pack all your necessary medications. Make sure you’ve got a room with the comfort and amenities you need. Like to heat up your dinner leftovers later that night? Does your roommate need a place to stash a six-pack of her favorite beer? See if your travel budget allows rooms with the little extras, like a microwave or refrigerator. Don’t forget that cleanliness ranks high in importance when it comes to getting solid sleep: National Sleep Foundation found that three out of four people say they get a more comfortable rest when their bedding has a fresh scent.

Getting quality sleep will do more favors for your intra-business and client relationships than happy hour because you can’t be your best self when you haven’t been sleeping. If you routinely have trouble dozing off, check out our recommendations to help you stay fast asleep.

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