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Diane Gottsman Headshot

Business Etiquette: Professionalism Behind the Wheel

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The way people handle themselves behind the wheel of a car can say a lot about how they conduct themselves in business. Our driving behaviors often reflect not only how we approach life, but also how we deal with others on a day-to-day basis. These habits can also provide insights into how we handle different situations, including our behavior at work. How do your driving manners translate into your professional life?

  • Time management. When you are driving to work or an appointment, do you allow plenty of time for the possibility of an unexpected traffic jam or road detour? Your answer may reveal a lot about your approach to time management. Do you give yourself ample time to complete big projects, or are you scrambling at the last minute, working late nights and weekends to meet a deadline?
  • Multitasking. If you find yourself checking emails, applying makeup, drinking coffee, and making calls, all while traveling 75 miles an hour on the interstate, you may need to rethink your strategies. Multitasking often results in a failure to give important tasks your full attention. Whether driving or working, this can be a recipe for disaster.
  • Patience. How do you react when you are stuck in traffic? Are you ranting at the train that is holding you up, or do you take a deep breath and accept the inconvenience? Reflect upon whether driving frustrations cross over into your professional life. Are you easily exasperated with colleagues, short with vendors, or quick to snap at those you supervise? If you find yourself apologizing or making excuses for your bad behavior, it's time to find an outlet for your stress.
  • Back Seat Driver. A passenger shouting commands from the backseat is an annoyance. Just because someone takes a different path doesn't mean they won't get to the same destination. The road to achievement can be accomplished in many different ways. It's not your place to correct, give unwelcome advice, or stand over a person's shoulder offering input unless you are the supervisor. A gentle suggestion is better than an exasperating, "This is how I would do it."
  • Organization. Do you keep your car overflowing with empty coffee cups or find yourself moving half-filled water bottles out of the way of the accelerator? If so, it might be beneficial to take a moment to examine the tidiness of your car. Disorganization within your vehicle causes needless distractions that require you to take your eyes off of the road. A cluttered desk, stacks of paperwork waiting to be filed, and drawers full of broken pencils and old candy wrappers may hinder your productivity.
  • Compliance. Law enforcement doesn't look the other way when you decide to turn traffic laws into suggestions, and your boss isn't likely to name you employee of the month if you break office policies. Racing through red lights may give you an adrenaline rush, but can cost you a hefty fine. Ignoring the rules at work, such as corporate attire, work schedule, and social media policies may affect your livelihood in a negative way.
  • Consideration for others. Being a respectful driver means you're probably thoughtful in other areas of life, including your occupation. If you find yourself cutting in front of other drivers or speeding through residential areas, you might need to take a look at how you treat those in your professional circle. The reality is, bad driving behavior does not make any situation better. Neither does a short temper or snarky attitude at work.

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