Post Academic

The Post Academic Road Warrior Guide: Dealing With Colleagues

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on December 1, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionThe biggest challenge of business travel can arise if you are traveling with several people from your company. You spend time with your colleagues all day long, even more so than when you were in the Ivory Tower. Imagine being in a car with them, sharing a hotel room with them or negotiating where you’ll go for dinner. You are going to be miserable if you don’t figure out how to adapt early on. If you follow these tips, you can legitimately list “people skills” on your resume:

Be tolerant of the musical tastes of others. Academics and post academics usually have the most exquisite musical tastes. The synthy auto-tuned stuff on most radio stations will not do, but people take their music seriously, and you can’t insult them by going on a tirade about how much Ke$ha sucks. Even if you are the driver, offer to rotate radio stations every now and then.

Keep the conversation light. Anyone who’s been in grad school can leap into deep conversation right after an introduction. But very few people are into that, and you don’t want to piss anyone off right from the start. Places you’ve traveled or good restaurants are typical havens for safe conversation.

More road rules after the jump! Image of a car stereo by Notwist, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

That said, beware the gossip. Spending so much time together can foster a sense of intimacy and companionship. Even if that isn’t the case, your colleagues might turn to gossip to fuel conversation. A seriously strategic coworker might reveal a juicy tidbit, and they might do it in the hopes that you’ll dish some dirt in return. Fight the temptation because your words could be carried back to the office, and then the gossip will spread.

Be forgiving. Try not to freak out when one of your colleagues gets lost or forgets a form that you needed. Everyone makes mistakes when they’re discombobulated. Likewise, if someone grumps at you, let it go. No one gets enough food or sleep on a business trip, so they could use a free pass or two.

On second thought, these rules could be used in the office or anywhere to ward off assholery. Just keep in mind that travel can bring out the worst in people, but staying flexible and calm can prevent even more problems.

3 Responses to 'The Post Academic Road Warrior Guide: Dealing With Colleagues'

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  1. Huh, I didn’t realize non-academic business trips were such marathons! But, as someone who likes Ke$ha, I appreciate the peace-making advice.

  2. Arnold Pan said,

    I think I have the radio sharing thing down myself. I’ve recognized that I’m doomed to a future of listening to Disney Radio with my toddler long ago. At least she asks to listen to the Belle and Sebastian CD in the changer when the same Bieber song comes on over an dover again!

  3. I think that’s the issue … more than whether or not Ke$ha or Bieber suck, it’s the fact that pre-programmed radio stations play the same song at least once an hour. I am pretty sure one station when we were in San Diego slipped and played “Like a G6” twice in an hour. When it was my turn for the radio, my rule was “anything with a guitar in it, please!” (I do adore the spelling of Ke$ha’s name–well done because it’s hard to forget who she is !)

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