• Audrey Chin

3 ways not to stress on a business trip

I’ve just come back from a great business trip! It was a 4 city 5 day marathon of super technical discussions with strangers in near freezing weather with 5 other colleagues, of whom 4 were certainly certifiable introverts. But I’m whole, the team’s healthy, and we all agree it’s one of the best we’ve had.

Here are 3 reasons why:

We prepared ahead

Before the meeting we were given admin packs full of useful tips about how to get from the airports to our hotels and the average costs for the ride, the best places to eat and how to get there, as well as information on tipping practices and social norms.

Our support people had researched the people we were visiting and prepared background notes on them. They’d also brainstormed the questions we needed to ask and sent them on ahead.

Upshot of all this was that we didn’t have to sweat the small stuff. We could focus on getting there, getting done without worrying too much about food and lodging.

We scheduled down time

Although we were chock-a-block with meetings, we’d also scheduled down time for the team as well as for ourselves. We’d schedule only one lunch or dinner for official business, leaving the other just for ourselves.

There was also room for “me-time”. For breakfast, we could be as anti-social as we liked, although we did usually look up and greet each other after our first cup of coffee.  In the middle of the week there was a free night where some of us snuck out to wonton noodles in Chinatown and others took a solitary stroll in Hyde Park.

The “me-time” allowed us to process our own stuff, the group meals to discuss fascinating new insights, and the business lunches or dinners to get to know our new friends in a less formal setting; all of the above upping productivity while reducing pressure.

We celebrated our wins!

From the beginning, everyone had a positive attitude. We didn’t gripe about the crazy schedule, the bad flights nor the weather.

“How nice it’s so cool”… “Great weather for walking”… we said in Scandinavia. “You can learn as much from what they don’t say as what they say” we said about a not so interesting meeting. And on a day the schedule was so tight we had to eat at the airport, we serendipitously discovered a great restaurant! Who would have thought? An airport bistro with the tastiest fries, a great slow-cooked lamb shank and the crunchiest winter salad dressed with flavourful vitamin rich pine nuts and sesame and flax seeds. Yum, yum, yum.

And the best thing…

The way this trip was organized we came back getting to know each other better, foibles and all. We connected not just as colleagues but as people.

Just shows… despite Facebook, WordPress, Google+ etc, face to face people time does beat all.

What do you do to manage stress on a business trip? How do you destress when you get back. Do you think people time beats all?

Let us know. Leave a comment.

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