Manners Matter: Carpooling with Coworkers

Dear Mary Pat,

My coworker and I have to travel cross country for work. We are both used to driving on our own, however, our boss wants us to drive together to a national conference in St. Louis. I would rather opt for a root canal. My coworker drives me crazy after five minutes of inane chit chat. How am I supposed to tolerate being in the car with him for eight or nine hours each way? My boss thinks if we compare notes and strategy our sales will increase. I think that after hour five, I might push him out of the car while going 70 miles an hour.

Saying no to my boss isn’t an option so I’m open to suggestions on how to survive this.


Captive in a Car

Maplewood, Wis.


Dear Captive in a Car,

The solution is simple:  act professionally. Don’t think of the time in the car as a fun road trip blasting your radio, think of it as an average day in the office and you have to get through an eight-hour shift with a coworker. You are building it up in your head and dreading how bad it is going to be, which is making it worse.

Your boss thinks you each have something worth sharing, so focus on that. What does this coworker, annoying as he might be, offer? What does he do well? How can you learn from him? And then think about the reverse. What do you offer him? What do you do well? How can he learn from you?

If you tackle this as a work challenge versus a personality challenge, you will be ahead of the game. You can also download some books audio books or podcasts relevant to your field as a back-up.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

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