Can’t we all just get along?

How to deal with different personality types when traveling for business.

We all have difficult coworkers. It’s just an inevitability that we will not get along with everyone we meet or work together. It feels manageable when we’re working in an office setting and we only have to see them for a certain number of hours a week. However, the task of tolerating those certain individuals who grind our gears, becomes considerably more difficult when the setting is moved from a desk to a plane, and a hotel, and a new environment. Traveling with coworkers is something that can be both a great bonding experience, as well as a real test of patience. So to help cope with the annoyances of your fellow travelers and coworkers, we have put together a list of the most common types of people you will encounter during your time abroad.

1. The Sympathizer

Now, at times our travels will take us to some locales that may not have the best conditions. Underdeveloped and poverty stricken countries are sometimes tough to take in. There’s someone who always seems to be around when these types of areas are on our itinerary…we’ve been come into contact with this person at one time or another, he feels so terrible for the poor poor people that have to live in this terrible place. The outpouring of sympathy could be off putting, or even offensive to the people of the community. Making everyone involved uncomfortable. When dealing with this type of person, it’s important to validate this person’s feelings. It can be difficult to see poverty, however take some time to remind this person that professionality is always the most important part of any interaction.

2. The “Fixer”

This person, while well intentioned, is severely misguided. He comes into a new environment, with his all seeing eye, and begins to tell the people what they need. He rants and raves about the awful current conditions of the status quo, and preaches about how he will revolutionize the system and make everything better. The local people might take this with very much, offense and be put off by an outsider thinking he knows their system and community better than they do. When dealing with this coworker, be sure to let him or her know that while it’s great to have ideas and look for improvements, it may be a little offensive or insulting to insinuate that the people in their community don’t know how to deal with their own problems.

3. The High Maintenance One

This one is a classic. This coworker is never at a loss for words, he or she constantly has something to gripe about. Whether it’s a problem with her food, hotel room, transportation, or general standard of living, the high maintenance one will find something wrong with all of it. This negativity makes everyone around uncomfortable and irritated. The negativity can even sometimes turn into hostility, if a local takes some offense in the comments being made. When dealing with this particular coworker, again, it’s important to validate her concerns and sympathize with the idea that being in a new place can be difficult to adjust to, but that professionalism is still the most important part of the trip and her actions are making it difficult to accomplish the task at hand.

4. The Constant Photographer

Now this person, isn’t hard to deal with as much as he is just downright annoying. We can all relate to having that one relative that seems to be in your face with a camera at every family gathering or event you attend together. The Constant Photographer is that relative if he or she was working on a business trip with you. This person is so excited to be somewhere new and wants to remember every waking second of it, which is understandable, but pausing for photographs all day can be distracting to your hosts and the work. So when dealing with this coworker, be sure to let them know that while you understand their desire to capture the memories it’s also important to focus on the work. Also mention that taking pictures of people’s’ homes, children, or property, might be intrusive and not welcomed.

5. The Crowd Pleaser

This person is vaguely interested in your company’s interests, and more focused on bettering his or her own status. The Crowd Pleaser is whipping out handshakes and snapping photos with high ranking officials, all the while promising things your company either hasn’t approved or is not in a position to make promises about. No matter though, as all these empty promises are making her look great in the meantime. When dealing with this person, remind them of your team’s goal and the task at hand. Also make a point to mention how it might hurt the company if all these promises don’t get fulfilled, and that she is making the team uncomfortable by making these statements.

6. The Assimilator

You’ve seen people get local dress as souvenirs, but this is a new level of adapting to the culture. This coworker is all about embracing the culture -maybe to a fault. She shows up to meetings with local leaders in traditional garments while everyone else is dressed in slacks and button-ups. When dealing with this coworker, be sure to mention that while embracing the culture is great, it’s also important not to overdo it. It might seem like mocking, or maybe even offensive if the situation isn’t right.

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