A reader writes: "I've been doing a lot of business travel and can't believe the pushy, inconsiderate behavior of many travelers. Is there a way to make..."

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Q: I’ve been doing a lot of business travel and can’t believe the pushy, inconsiderate behavior of many travelers. Is there a way to make it obvious to brain-dead people that they are rude?

A: Between worries about terrorism, airline-industry problems and harried fellow travelers, most people find business travel a necessary evil. But, as much as you’d like to explode at other travelers, that would simply add to the tension.

Psychology experiments have been done for years that put lab rats in conditions that slowly become overcrowded. When there’s plenty of space, the rats all get along famously. When crowded, however, they begin hurting their young, attacking each other and generally losing their little rat minds. Anyone who travels extensively for work can relate to these lab rats.

Most of us have seen people who even resemble such harried rats — yelling at flight attendants, swearing at other customers, demanding special treatment. During a bad trip, we can be tempted to act this way ourselves.The truth is, many people shuttling between time zones and flights are feeling brain dead. They don’t mean to offend you; they literally aren’t thinking. If you can communicate without blaming them, they may even cooperate.

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Dirty looks and sarcasm provide no specific behavioral request to others. People may sense you’re generally upset but don’t know what you want. For instance, when your seat was being kicked, you might have tried turning around and saying gently, “I know it’s hard to control young kids on long flights, but when your son is kicking my seat, everything shakes. Could you ask him to stop, please?”

It’s true that friendly skies appear to be a distant memory. However, by communicating specifically what you want in a patient, neutral tone, you increase your chances of having a pleasant trip. You’ll also find a sense of power in discovering that although you personally may not be able to defeat terrorism, you can chose not to contribute to global tensions when you travel.

Q: I’ve finally got the job and generous salary I wanted. However, I’m shocked to find that I’m depressed, having health problems and hate never seeing my family. How can a dream become a nightmare?

A: It’s been said that there are two great tragedies: never getting what you want and getting what you want. When we get what we want, sometimes we find we were so busy scaling the ladder we didn’t ask if it was against the right wall.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., can be reached at 1420 N.W. Gilman Blvd., No. 2845, Issaquah, WA 98027-7001; by e-mail at interpersonaledge@comcast.net; or at www.interpersonaledge.com. Sorry, no personal replies. To read other Daneen Skube columns, go to: www.seattletimes.com/daneenskube