Travelling can be pretty stressful at the best of times – people may be anxious, tired, frazzled or otherwise irritable, and when a bunch of people feeling that way are trapped together in an airplane or bus for hours it can be a recipe for trouble.  Everyone who has ever traveled can tell a story about “that guy” in the airport lounge or in the seat ahead of them who made the trip miserable for everyone else.  Here are some reminders to help you avoid becoming “that guy” yourself.

No one wants to hear your business!

One of the most annoying things that people can do to drive other people to the brink is talking on their cell phones loudly and endlessly.  Research suggests that people find this so irritating because it intrudes on our consciousness in a way that is very difficult to ignore.  When we hear only one side of a conversation, our brains try to fill in the missing pieces to make sense of what we are hearing.  This makes it difficult to just ignore the conversation the way that we easily can when we hear both sides.  The depth of the irritation that many people experience in these situations is confirmed by the growing number of people who have started to carry a pocket-sized phone jammer with them to shut these conversations down, to the relief of everyone within earshot.

No one wants to hear your technology!

Almost as irritating as having to listen to one-sided cell phone conversations is having to listen to every beep and swoosh of your income emails or outgoing texts.  This is similar to the psychology of hearing only one side of a conversation.  Similarly, no one wants to hear the show you are watching on the plane, or listen to your kids’ games at the next table. There is a reason that devices have a mute option and headphones.

No one wants to sit next to you after you’ve had a smoke!

Non-smokers often find it very unpleasant to be around a smoker – even when the smoking section is outside or non-existent, smokers can’t mask the odor that clings to their clothes and is carried on their breath.  If you know you are going to be at close quarters with other people for any period of time, do your best to minimize the noxious effect on others by washing your hands and brushing your teeth after your last cigarette.

These are just some of the ways that other people may be driven to distraction by things that you are doing.  The odd thing is that most of us are bothered by these things when other people do them, but we sometimes don’t seem to realize that they are just as irritating when we do them!  Try to be aware of these things on your next trip so that you don’t end up being “that guy.”

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.