My wife reminded me that not everyone has a GPS phone or a navigation system in their car. Despite that observation, it is a rare occasion that someone will ask me for directions when they are coming to visit me at my office or home. I know that I don’t ask for directions when arranging an appointment either professional or personal. Then I started wondering if not asking for directions, is a good thing. I came up with a few reasons it makes sense to ask the person you are visiting for directions.
Those of us that use Mapquest, Yahoo or Google Maps for example have found those platforms to be useful although frustrating at times. Since I have a smart phone complete with a Google Maps application I frequently rely on it to get me where I am going – anywhere in the world. It works most of the time but I have encountered situations where the application failed to locate me via GPS – particularly when I travel to China. That’s not exactly the place you’d want to be with no idea on how to get from point A to point B – so there’s one reason to ask for or at least print-out directions ahead of time.
Another reason it makes sense to ask for directions or at least confirm the directions you have is to avoid any unknown detours, road closures etc. It’s true that most of the GPS enabled applications and navigation systems will eventually get there but wouldn’t it be nice to know about road closures or detours ahead of time?
And don’t forget about the human engagement element that occurs while asking for directions. When you go to a place for the first time and rely on an application to get you there you miss out on connecting with someone regarding the place where they live or work. For example you could mention in conversation with the appointment about the route you are likely to take and if there are any better ways or things (i.e. landmarks) to look for. By doing that you make things just a little more personal by receiving information that is likely to be both timely and relevant and along the way you might learn a few things about the person and the area in which they live and work. People like talking about the area in which they spend their time – either for work, home or leisure.
While it’s true that GPS navigation systems are good and only getting better I am going to change my method of never asking for directions to connect a little more with the people I am going to visit. Obviously it is not always practical to ask for directions when visiting a public place like a stadium or movie theater, but those post directions on their websites that you can use as a guideline.
How about you? Are you like me in that you never ask for directions? Have I made you think about it even a little?
Many years ago, I bicycled across the United States, from Seattle to Boston. Along the way we stopped in small towns, sometimes having dinner or eating in local schools, or churches. For the first several weeks of the trip I would stop locals and ask them for directions to these places, usually located within several blocks of where we were standing. With few exceptions, they were unable to give them. Today I work in restaurants, and the phone often rings with customers looking for directions. I watch as the employees, who have worked there for years, scramble to find the directions that we have written down near the front door in order to help guide people to our establishment.
I never ask for directions — not because I am too proud, but because it’s a waste of time. I am almost always better off finding it myself than expecting a clear, concise, accurate response.
Thanks for your comment Andy,
I agree with you on the fact that direction accuracy offered by those you ask is suspect (at best) sometimes. But the human interaction of asking for directions can offer interseting results just by connecting with people.