When you travel on business, everything you do reflects on the company and on you, so you must maintain a high level of professionalism, and not behave in a way that would tarnish your company’s image, or your own. As an example, criticism of a traveling companion’s driving could be interpreted as a grab for power — a deliberate attempt to undermine the driver. Another example: you will appear to be out of control if you show frustration during traffic jams or become angry about the poor driving skills of others. Never lose your temper or start swearing. If you do, you will come across as a person who buckles under pressure. When you are one of several passengers in a car, ask the driver where you should sit, particularly if yours is a junior position.
The owner of the car drives unless that owner asks someone else to take over the responsibility. If a fellow business traveler offers to drive your car and you would rather not drive, or want to use the time for a business task, pass the keys and thank your fellow traveler. Otherwise, graciously decline by citing a reason, such as company policy restrictions.
In business travel, good manners do not require a man to open the car door for a woman. If he chooses to do so, he opens the door on the curb side before walking around the car to let himself in. The woman smiles, and says “Thank you.” In a group situation, he gives the woman the seat of honor — rear passenger side. If two men and two women are traveling together and all have equal rank, it could be considered condescending for the women to be seated in the back and the men in front. A better scenario would be to mix the two genders for the sake of general conversation.
Rules of the Road
- Refrain from smoking in another person’s car and from smoking in your own car when driving with other people.
- Show consideration when you park. Do not occupy two spaces or park at an angle, thus making maneuvering difficult for the driver who parks next to you. Do not block driveways and entrances. Do not park in a space set aside for the handicapped.
- Abide by the rules of safe driving. Do not make cell phone calls or send text messages while driving. Respect speed limits, as well as signaling/lane changing courtesies.
- If you are old enough to drive, you are old enough to conduct yourself in a civilized manner behind the wheel. Horn blowing, making crude gestures and cutting people off indicate immaturity and lack of self control.
- Return a borrowed car at the exact time promised. Return the car washed and litter-free with a full tank of gas. Follow up with a thank-you note.
- If you should hit a vacant parked car, leave a note on the windshield with your name and telephone number, so you or your insurance company can cover expenses. Doing the right thing when no one is looking is a matter of character.