I’d Have the Order of Business, with Sex on the Side

19 02 2008


The Business Trip (X-Rated)
New York Times: LINK

Because your on business does not mean you are just allowed to commit infidelity. you’re alone? BOO HOO! here’s my sympathy.

Two European business executives who travel to the world’s most glamorous cities like to get the most out of the endless launch parties, art fairs and exhibitions they attend. But when the fun is over, the two men agree not to speak about their exploits again: not with each other, nor with anyone else.

Their strategy is based on the Las Vegas advertising slogan that many business travelers employ when their behavior might be considered indecorous: “What happens here, stays here.”

Business travel presents the temptation to indulge in the kind of activity executives wouldn’t want their mothers to know about. Often that includes visits to strip clubs and one-night stands.

“You’re in the same industry, you go to the same shows and that’s when it happens,” said Jeffrey Pataky, vice president for sales at a software company in Phoenix, describing what he often saw on the road. “Everyone is just sleeping around. It’s funny and it’s sad.”

Ian Sanders, a London-based business and marketing consultant, remembers when he was single and working in the music and television business. He says work often felt as if he were on the road with a rock ’n’ roll band. “You’d have a meeting till 10 p.m., then everyone would go to the bar and occasionally you’d end up in bed with someone.”

Mr. Sanders, author of the career advice book “Leap! Quit Your Job, Start Your Own Business & Set Yourself Free,” said there was constant pressure to party: “To say you were tired was frowned upon: taboo. You’d be viewed as a party pooper. The whole thing on a business trip is you have to be taking part, married or single. You’re at a hotel, another destination, flirting is part of the territory and maybe you end up in bed.”

Dr. Debi Yohn, a counseling psychologist based in Shanghai, sees how affairs on business trips continue beyond the one-night stand. “When you are traveling, you feel alone, you’ve had too much to drink, and things lose their perspective,” she wrote in an e-mail interview. “You do it once, get away with it … do it again. … Then it seems O.K.”

Dr. Yohn counsels expatriate families in their marriage troubles and explained that affairs are very common for men and for women who travel or live abroad.

“If you do not have a good marriage, or you are not having sexual relations with your partner, or you have just had another argument with your mate, you are ripe for an attraction to occur.”

Mr. Pataky said his marriage broke up, in part, because of the pressures of business travel. He said his wife feared what might be happening while he was traveling. “I had lots of opportunities, but I never did,” Mr. Pataky said.

Mr. Sanders counsels: “Seasoned business travelers need hard and fast rules. You go to bed early, you hang out in your room and watch a movie, do some e-mails and get some sleep.”

And what of the unwanted advance?

When asked for strategies in dealing with those, Terry Neese, president and co-founder of the Women Impacting Public Policy Institute, which advocates for women in business, said, “I have always found that if you act with professionalism and show integrity and total focus on your business, less of those things happen.” If that doesn’t do it, Ms. Neese suggests saying: “I’m not interested in where you’re coming from. I’m here to attend the conference.”

There are ways to avoid such awkward moments. On an airline, excuse yourself from the conversation and put on your headphones, says Paul A. Tucci, chief operating officer of a software developer, Iwerk, in Royal Oak, Mich.

Mr. Tucci, who wrote “Traveling Everywhere: How to Survive a Global Business Trip,” is an expert in avoiding people he doesn’t want to talk to on planes. He provides this advice: “Make up the name of the hotel, if asked, and never give out your cellphone number or e-mail address. Just smile, be caring and assertive and say, ‘Why don’t you give me yours, and if I have time, I’ll e-mail you,’ and be done with it.”

If necessary, he suggests, switch to an empty seat on the plane.

Not all executives get even the most obvious of messages. Lydie Thomas, a French woman who runs her own crafts Web site, artchestra.com, from California, said a salesman at a company she once worked for rang her hotel phone at night and then later tried the door. She told him to leave her alone, and the next day he acted as though nothing had happened. “It was very disrespectful of him to pursue me after I clearly told him I wasn’t interested.“

Harassment while on business trips isn’t something that only women have to deal with.

Kevin Davidson, a public relations executive in the entertainment industry remembers a similar problem he had with a female client who got too touchy. “It was frustrating because I was out on the road by myself. I reached out to my boss and asked what I should do.” His boss was unsympathetic, and reminded him he had work to do, to “just get it done.”

“Being away from home gives people a license to be somebody else.” Mr. Davidson added. “They feel they can leave regular lives behind and behave badly.”

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