A few years ago when the Home Warrior was working in inside sales there was an executive that he couldn’t stand working with. He was constantly overworked by this executive who had no boundaries when in came to work hours. Requests would come in at ridiculous times, with the expectation that they would be completed immediately. This not only affected the Home Warrior, it affected me as well. We would have Friday night plans but a request would come in Friday afternoon and would have the Home Warrior tied down the rest of the evening, erasing all possibilities of going out. To be honest, I disliked this executive almost as much as he did (maybe more. He is nicer than I am). According to the Home Warrior this wasn’t a one sided relationship– the executive also was not fond of the Home Warrior and wasn’t shy shy about voicing that opinion. They butted heads often.
Their relationship was strictly by phone and email, as in inside sales you don’t really travel. However the executive did travel, and was going to be in town one day and wanted them to have lunch so they could meet in person for the first time. The Home Warrior was dreading this lunch tremendously. During the lunch meeting that day I wondered how badly it would go. But when the Home Warrior reported back I was shocked. He said the meeting was refreshing, and they really enjoyed their time together. It was the most productive and open discussion they had ever had. From that point on the two of them regularly scheduled a face to face lunch, and continued a wonderful working relationship.
At the time I had not been traveling long, but as I started traveling more I also would have similar experiences. There would be a tense working relationship, then we would meet in person for the first time and in most cases the negativity would go away permanently, allowing us to thrive.
This is part of the reason why I believe so strongly in business travel. Of course I’ll work with people that push to handle things remotely instead of traveling because the technology is there to do so. And they are right, about half of the time when I travel there is a way that technology could have replaced the trip. But there’s something that technology can’t do. It can’t replace the power of meeting face to face. Video conferences and FaceTime come close, but I can tell you from years of experience that they don’t have the impact that a true face to face meeting has. And when it comes to communication by phone and email, a face to face meeting can be invaluable to improving those lines of communication. So the next time your company wants to freeze travel, remind them that business travel not only has a hefty ROI, but also has the ability to break through what was thought to be an unbreakable barrier.
Readers, has business travel fixed any difficult working relationships for you?
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