How Movies Can Help You
Handle the Pressures of Business Traveling 

By Maria Grace, Ph.D.

Are you having nightmares about your next business trip? Are you already seeing yourself stuck at the airport due to a cancelled flight, or in the hotel after a long day of meetings with nothing to do except drink at the bar? And, if you are flying overseas, are you dreading the inevitable culture shock, the language barriers with business associates, and those moments of homesickness-when only talking to your family seems to help, but you can't call them because of the time difference?

For you, the unhappy business traveler, there is good news. You won't have to go through any of these hassles ever again, thanks to something that can keep you company, give you inspiration, teach you cross-cultural skills, and prepare you for the negotiating table while giving you endless entertainment. You may have guessed it already - I'm talking about the movies.

If you want to start having pain-free business trips, here are five ways you can use movies to battle airport boredom, apprehension about a foreign culture, and homesickness, and improve your communication with your business associates.

  • Carry your favorite movies with you -- and a set of good earphones. Create your portable DVD library, and pop a movie in your laptop when flight delays keep you stuck at the airport, or after a long day of meetings with nothing to do in the evening except drinking at the bar. Watch it when you need to relax with a good, "alcohol-free" comedy or when you need inspiration from your favorite movie character to face next morning's meetings.

  • Watch movies from the countries you visit, when you travel internationally. They can give you insights into how people interact at home and work, how they dress, what their values are, and how they face conflict, competition and challenge.

  • Watching a movie at the airport from the country you are about to visit brings that country closer to you and calms your impatience to get there when your flight is delayed or cancelled. " Watch an American movie in a theater overseas-just make sure it's not dubbed, since many American movies shown overseas are dubbed in a foreign language. This is a learning experience in itself that will get you out of the hotel and force you to explore the city you are in. It is also a great activity, especially when you are homesick. Watching an American movie overseas will bring home to you when you cannot be at home. Noticing how popular American culture is overseas will reassure you while also keeping you entertained.

  • Go off the beaten path -- go to a movie with business associates. Opt for a movie over the bar, at least once. Invite your business associates to a movie theater and let them pick the movie. Afterwards, use the film you all saw as impetus to strike up conversation over dinner in a non-threatening and neutral way. As you share your reactions to the movie, you will gain insights into your associates' thoughts, values, and personalities. Some of that may be useful for your business negotiations the next day. This is especially useful when you are overseas, working in a foreign culture.

  • Show a movie to build rapport with business associates. When traveling overseas, you are likely to face difficulties with the language, culture and communication. Tackle them with a movie. Show your business associates a movie that teaches them something about your culture, your values, and your personal or professional style. Make a list of three points about the movie and discuss them afterwards. It's a great way to help them understand where you are coming from and put them at ease with your differences.

Don't let time pass without taking action. Start your favorite movie list now and begin building your traveling movie library. Use movies in your next business trip and, you'll see, they will add reel quality to your working life.

Movie Examples Show Perils of Business Traveling: Do you think business traveling is a hassle just for you? Here are three movies that show what might happen during a business trip that could significantly affect someone's career and life. Use these lessons for your own benefit and for safe business trips.

1. "Lost in Translation"-Two unhappy Americans meet in Japan while on separate business trips. He is Bob - a highly paid celebrity, married, unhappy, and emotionally starved. She is Charlotte - recently married, disillusioned, neglected by her husband whose career she's followed to Japan, and three decades younger than Bob. They develop a strong bond that shields them from the culture shock, loneliness and homesickness that plague them. As the bond gets stronger, so do their differences that will eventually win. Morals of the story: Have a solid home life. Have a plan of action when you follow your spouse's career overseas. It's unrealistic to expect everyone there to know English.

2. "The Firm" - Young attorney Mitch McDeere has it all: a great job in a law firm and a happy marriage. What he doesn't know is that his firm is corrupt and set out to extort his loyalty through blackmail. That's why, during a business trip to the Grand Cayman Islands, a stranger seduces Mitch on the beach as he's walking back to his hotel after a long day of meetings followed by too many drinks. Mitch hopes his wife will never find out, but she does and she leaves him. Tortured Mitch goes through an entire ordeal to redeem himself and win her back. Morals of the story: Having too much alcohol is always a recipe for disaster - don't let a disaster happen to you. It takes many years to build a happy marriage and only a few minutes to destroy it-when you travel on business, don't let frivolities destroy your life.

3. "Working Girl" - Highly paid executive Katharine Parker goes away to Europe and leaves her assistant, Tess McGill, in charge of her office and home affairs. But Katharine has done something that Tess discovers to her dismay: she has stolen Tess's idea about a merger and presented it as hers to the client. Tess decides to set the record straight and take charge of her life and her career. And she does so, assuming Katharine's identity. Tess is so successful, that she ends up winning the project, the client, and Katharine's boyfriend, leaving Katharine without her job, her reputation, and her man. Morals of the story: Play a fair game with your colleagues and subordinates. When you are away on business, leave your affairs to someone you know - your career may depend on them.

Read other articles and learn more about Maria Grace.

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