The Art of Attentiveness: Top tips on being attentive to a loved one when travelling this Christmas

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Last month, new research from Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) revealed that 20% of participants believe customer service today is far worse than it was 30 years ago when Are you Being Served? and Crossroads were held up as parodies of what we expected from the service industries. In order to tackle this issue, SWISS has launched an ‘Art of Attentiveness’ campaign to bring the importance of attentive service to the forefront of people’s minds.

To mark this, SWISS teamed up with relationship expert Kate Taylor to provide some top tips for being attentive when travelling with a partner this Christmas.

Kate’s tips:

1. Body talk – Watch your companion’s body language. Nobody likes to admit they’re tired on holiday, but their bodies will give it away; look for clues like eye-rubbing, restless legs, and a drop in concentration. When you spot they’re flagging, treat them gently – suggest trying out the local nightclub tomorrow night instead.

2. Planning is key – If someone you’re travelling with has a food allergy, plan where to eat before you leave home to avoid stressful situations while you’re away and I recommend researching local restaurant menus online, and contact the hotel and airline to check they can accommodate your needs. SWISS was the world’s first certified ‘allergy friendly’ airline, this means the airline goes above and beyond to minimise the presence of allergens within its cabin and lounge environment, particularly in upholstery materials, air conditioning or certain food items.

3. Digital detox – Use your trip as a chance to have a mini screen-detox. Use a real camera rather than your phone, to avoid the temptation to update Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with all of your latest photos. In the evenings, keep your phone locked in the hotel safe and turn all your attention to your companions.

4. Be fair – Watch your partner’s actions, not just their words. They might claim to be as excited as you are to try the hiking trail/bungee jump/black ski run, but are they really? If they spend all their time gazing wistfully at the pool, or reading the spa treatment menu, realise they might actually prefer different activities; ensure they get a chance to fit them in.

5. Quiet time – If you’re travelling with an introvert, realise they’ll need a chance to unwind in silence during the trip, or they’ll feel overwhelmed and stressed. Bring a book, DVD player, magazines and other things to occupy yourself during long flights or train journeys. On Swiss flights you can choose from over 140 films and just as many TV programmes. The latest blockbusters, award-winning documentaries and most popular TV series are waiting for you. If your companion is extroverted, they’ll recharge their batteries by talking to you and other people: get plenty of sleep before the journey so you can keep up with them.

6. Allow for spontaneity – Don’t bossily fill up every day with your own dream itinerary: leave gaps, so your companions get a chance to suggest what they’d love to do.

7. Compromise is key – Learn the thousand different ways we all have of saying, “No,” so you can recognise when your partner isn’t as enthusiastic about a plan as they’re pretending to be. Phrases like, “If you want to,” or, “I guess we could,” usually really mean, “Please God, no.” Or look for excuses that don’t make sense – when a partner blocks a suggestion a couple of times, you should drop it.

8. Take time to listen – Use the trip as a chance to practise “detached listening”. What everyone truly wants is a chance to be heard without judgement or opinion. On holiday, if your partner talks about a problem they’re having back home, don’t rush to suggest brilliant solutions. Just listen, acknowledge, and give up the urge to fix things. Your partner will appreciate the opportunity simply to unload.

9. Feel-good factor – When your partner gets ready for an evening out, tell them they look amazing. Most people excitedly plan their holiday outfits in advance: show that you’ve noticed their effort!

10. Think ahead – Bring along your companions’ favourite snacks and drinks for the journey. Just the simple act of remembering their preferred flavour of crisps or bar of chocolate will show them you’re thinking of them. It’s worth noting that SWISS offer complimentary chocolate on their flights for guests to enjoy. Similarly, create a CD or playlist of their favourite music for the trip; don’t subject them to your own favourites for hours on end. And if you can remember to set your TV to record their favourite shows while you’re away, you will be loved eternally.

For more information about this movement and about Swiss International Air Lines, please visit swiss.com/attentiveness and swiss.com.

Note: This is a collaborative feature with Swiss Air.

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