Ever been in the car with a backseat driver? Everyone hates that. No one wants to be told how to turn, how soon to signal, how fast to go, etc.
Unless it’s truly dangerous, the driver’s choices are the driver’s prerogative and most of us don’t say anything. We may decide not to ride with that person again, but if someone willfully risks traffic tickets or worse every time they get behind the wheel, telling them to slow down isn’t going to change a darn thing in the long run. The problem isn’t that they didn’t know any better and needed you to tell them, the problem is that they are going to do what they want to do anyway. If it’s that bad, tell them to pull over and get out.
But what if you’re in the car with a relatively good driver, someone you trust, and everything is going well, but you see a road hazard, someone coming from a side street, or some other dangerous situation that it seems the driver doesn’t see. Would you say something then? Of course you would—it’s not “backseat driving” to yell “Look out!” at a critical time, and no one in their right mind would say, “I saw the truck coming but I decided to let it hit us—I didn’t want to be rude.”
It doesn’t have to be a truck—if the fuel light comes on or there seems to be something wrong with the car, you’d probably mention it. You don’t want to be stuck by the side of the road either, and if the answer is as easy as offering to put some gas in the tank, most of us would do so. That’s actually far more polite than quietly starting at the glowing red indicator on the dashboard and trying to make conversation.
But we don’t do that in other aspects of life. Why is that?
You boss is driving you somewhere. You shouldn’t ever be a backseat driver, because that’s a shortcut to a rather difficult work environment, but most of us err on the side of breaking down in the middle of nowhere rather than risking saying something to the boss. But if your entire company hinges on the functionality of equipment that, let’s face it, your boss doesn’t have to use the way you do, and the fuel light is on, say something.
If you just can’t—we don’t know how crazy your boss is and there’s no way you could ever do that—call us.
First off, you’re probably wrong and you need to remember that your boss is just a person. But if they really are that challenging, it’s because they are scared and trying not to think about it, which means they need to talk to an Engineer. We can listen to you and translate that to management in a way that just might get them to stop for gas.
It may work, it may not, but you can know you did all you could, and what if one little thing you said ended up being the reason the entire company stayed on course. Who knows? You might just end up driving someday.