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Travel: Try Out a New You

A business trip can offer an exciting opportunity to practice some new behaviors if you’ve been working on some behavior modification techniques. I counsel my clients to branch out a bit and not miss the chance to try on a new style. You will be encountering people who don’t know you and who don’t have any preconceptions about what you’re like. So, if you’re working on being more outgoing, more reserved, or more empathetic, all of those slight adjustments to your vibe (how you come across to people) can be practiced along your route.

If you’ve been told you’re overly serious, try to being a little more lighthearted with your flight seatmate. If you feel as though you aren’t taken seriously, try exuding a little more gravitas with the check-in agent. If you’re working on speaking more slowly, or confidently, or more humorously, try that out with strangers you encounter. Notice how they react and how you feel. Think of the travel opportunity as your sandbox, where you get to play and experiment with little risk of embarrassment. After all, you’re probably not going to see these people again. If you succeed in creating a positive and more controlled experience around you, you are learning techniques you can transfer to your “real life,” when you return from your trip.

For example, if you notice a young mother struggling with her luggage and children, and if you would normally ignore her trouble, bury your nose in a book, and feel bad about it later, maybe this time, you’ll step forward, get her kids in their seats, and put her bags in the overhead bin. If your flight is delayed and passengers are being abusive to the gate agents, and if you would normally glom on, let loose with a few smart-alecky comments of your own, and regret them later, maybe this time, you’ll offer some words of encouragement and appreciation for the agents. If you are normally tongue tied when riding in a taxi, try drawing out the taxi driver, asking where he’s from and how he ended up driving a taxi. I have met some very fascinating taxi cab drivers, including a professional ice skater, a singing opera lover, and a South American sheepherder.

The people around you don’t know that you are not behaving as you typically would; they take you at face value. It’s an opportunity to turn your trip into something more interesting, to try out a slight variation of your usual behavior. It’s a chance to play a little, and you might find that you enjoy your new face very much.

© 2016 Jennifer K. Crittenden

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