The curse of the friendly traveller

Couple on flight
Image credit: Sean Locke

Continuing our series of business travel blogs, we promised last week to take up on the friendly traveller story.

The moment you take a job working in a global context, it’s impossible to avoid business travel.

One of consultant Peter Guendlig‘s submitted tips for on the plane was: Be open. The person next to you in the airplane might have a great story, or even business, for you. I’ve had the most amazing people next to me.

And indeed, this sentiment was echoed by others on the team. If you weren’t a naturally friendly person, you’d probably not make the team at Global Integration.

But Janet Davis surprised us by raising a point that many will recognize.

I never ever smile at my neighbour on a plane or talk to them. When I have, it’s led to some extremely uncomfortable trips, and a couple of deeply creepy experiences from chaps who then wouldn’t leave me in peace (and one was even staying in the same hotel as me.)

What’s been your experience?

As someone who often manages to sit next to someone mad (in the ‘unfunny’ sense) or smelly, Janet’s advice certainly resonates with me. 

Should you strike up a conversation? Does gender, age or culture make a difference? Is it intrusive if someone strikes up a conversation? Is the plane the only situation where you could be sat next to someone day and night (on a long haul flight) without passing the time of day? What are the most social, and antisocial, things you’ve come across, and how do you counter these behaviours?

We’d love to hear your views.

Inner peace?

By the way,  if you ever see a man stood looking quietly happy as chaos breaks out around him in the boarding queue, it might always be our very own John Bland:

I don’t smile at people I just smile.  It is to I remind myself of how good my life is when I might be getting a bit up tight. I look around and wonder how bad other people’s lives must be for them to act like they do.

Seems a great philosophy for reducing the stress on a personal level. By the time you’ve got this far into your travels, whatever’s left behind is left behind, the seat plans already sorted on board, and what lies ahead is an as yet unwritten adventure.

Next week

So how do you cope with jet lag? Our team supplied some personal tips on how they cope – and we discovered a controversial debate around the use of a legal drug.

The curse of the friendly traveller

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