How to Be a Good Navigator

Being a navigator during a car trip is no easy task. But it's also not the end of the world. So please don't forget your manners while yelling at the driver for missing that turn off the expressway.

Richie Frieman
5-minute read
Episode #288

During my tenure as Modern Manners Guy, I’ve discussed various types of travel. From airplane etiquette, to road trips, to train travel, I've learned that when we travel, we can get pretty darn cranky.  And one area in particular that tends to really bring out people’s bad manners is when they’re playing the role of the navigator.>

Whether you’re asked to navigate a trip, or demand the role yourself, there will be plenty of opportunity to turn a pleasant day sour with one missed turn.  However frustrating navigating is, you have to remember your goal is to get from A to Z on time and safe, and not wanting to kill the person next to you somewhere around H or I.

So check out my top 3 quick and dirty tips for how to be a proper navigator:

Tip #1: By Choice or By Force?

There are two types of navigators: those who are asked to direct the trip and those who insist on doing it.  When a person is asked to be the navigator, he or she is basically innocent of all charges that the driver will file against them.  I say this because the newly appointed navigator did not apply for this role. They were simply handed an address and told, “Get us there.” So how can you get mad at someone who isn’t prepared? Or at least, how can you not allow for a bit of a curve in grading their skills? You have to cut this person some slack.  

On the other hand, the self-appointed "expert” in the passenger seat who truly believes they are the Lewis and Clark of the highway, this person deserves everything you can dish out. Especially if they bark orders like an Army Sargent the whole way. “I said RIGHT! RIGHT! RIGHT! Not left! What are you an idiot or something?”

To all the navigators out there who believe that the Google Maps developers should have met with you before they made their app, I beg you to please drop the ‘tude. No one is impressed. And yes, you may be a better driver and/or navigator than the other person(s) in the car, but your delivery is about as graceful as Honey Boo Boo’s mother in a spelling bee.

Losing your temper is a part of life, but being able to recognize that you’re losing it and pull back on the beast is critical. Take a breath, close your eyes, count to 10. 

If you know you get a little buck wild when it comes to being in the passenger seat, there are two things you have to do. For one, give the driver a heads up about your potential unmannerly ways. “Look Bob, before we get going, I tend to get a little, feisty, when it comes to directions. So please don’t hold it against me.” Will Bob forgive you when you curse him out every five minutes? Probably not, but it’s a start.

As well, be honest with yourself. Losing your temper is a part of life, but being able to recognize that you’re losing it and pull back on the beast is critical. Take a breath, close your eyes, count to 10, and realize that you can hurt others with your words, especially when you’re stressed out by being a navigator.

Tip #2: The Passive Aggressive Approach

Making passive aggressive comments to someone is the second most annoying thing you can do. The silent treatment is the single most immature act an adult can exhibit to “express” their feelings.  When you respond passive aggressively, like, “Gee, I don’t think this is the way I would go, if I were you. But hey, you’re the driver, so I’ll keep my mouth shut,” it’s rude and disrespectful. If you can’t say how you feel properly (meaning in an educated, well-mannered way), then don’t say it at all. You’re not being helpful by being snarky. 

Passive aggressive behavior gets you nowhere. And when you are in a rush to get from A to Z, you truly will end up nowhere if all your comments are smart-aleck remarks.  If you are the kind of person who insists on using passive aggressive comments to hide behind your insecurity, and lack the self control to stop, then at least follow up the snark with some actionable advice.