Leaving loved ones behind when we travel for business is never easy. Whether your children give you big sad eyes, your dog lies on your suitcase or your spouse feels neglected, a business trip can tug at your heart strings pretty easily. And, if you are on the road often enough or cross enough timezones, you are virtually creating a long distance relationship with those you love.
Unfortunately, when we travel for business, it isn’t always a choice…it is very often required. And just as we manage relationships with our clients, we need to manage relationships with our loved ones while on the road. Next business trip you take, consider the following:
- Open Communication: To manage relationships with family effectively, it is important to maintain open lines of communication. If you are dealing with a spouse or family member who is unhappy about your travel or who fears separation, communication will help to avoid unnecessary relationship stress. It is easy for a spouse or loved one to conjure up a glamorous life on the road, when in fact, a business trip can be anything but. Squelch misconceptions by openly communicating about the reality of your situation, accommodations, colleagues, etc. The more they know, the less that will be left up to the imagination.
- Pencil Them in: As horrible as this may sound, scheduling time in for a long distance relationship chat session can be very helpful. And, it is important to do this on a daily basis. When we travel for business, we are often in a different timezone and too busy to prioritize the relationships back home. Setting time aside in your daily schedule, will help ensure you get in a call to those you love without being rushed or distracted.
- Quality Time: The more we build in quality time with the people we love when we are at home, the easier it will be to manage relationships when we are away. Quality time with your spouse and kids gives you an opportunity to reconnect and feel close to you. This closeness built when together will help bridge the gap that occurs when you’re apart.
- Manage Expectations: As a consultant, it was imperative that I manage client expectations so as to not under-deliver. If anything, I always wanted to exceed expectations. In a sense, to manage relationships with loved ones, you have to manage their expectations as well. If your family wants you to cut your trip short for an important occasion at home, and you know there is a very slim chance you can, it is better to say you can’t than to pretend you will try. Further, if you DO think there is a chance, it is still better to say you can’t and surprise your loved ones than to raise their hopes and disappoint.
- Don’t Break Promises: When we travel for business there are inevitable, yet unpredictable, travel delays. It is important, however, to do everything in your power to keep your promises to your loved ones. If promises are broken too often, your loved ones will start to lose faith and trust in your word. If you say you are going to call…call. If you say you are going to take the 2:35PM flight from Chicago in order to make a family event, be on the plane.
How do you manage relationships with loved ones when you travel for business?