Don’t Poke the Bear!

Sensationalism and outrage hurt productivity and generate bad feelings. The provocation may be our unprecedented political situation or internal decisions that suddenly become unnecessarily difficult. Let me give you a simple, unemotional example.

The Boston Globe recently published an interesting story about pedestrian crossing buttons. I read it. I know what it said. And I have no reason to doubt it.

Next thing I know, a Public Radio show host is spouting off about those same buttons: “They don’t work and never have! Do you feel duped?”

I am so sick of sensationalism and outrage. I understand that headlines drive clicks and attract audiences, but let’s not dupe people with half truths and then suggest they feel duped!

Now you may not care about crossing buttons, but this is a good example of sensationalism and outrage without the high emotions associated with our most common examples: current events and politics.

So here is the rest of the story:

Pedestrian crossing buttons often do nothing, except maybe trigger a voice that instructs you to wait.

Are they broken? No.

Do they work sometimes? Yes.

Is this intentional? Yes.

At the busiest intersections, everyone has to wait their turn. The city would grind to a complete halt if every pedestrian were able to stop traffic flow with the poke of a finger. Stop lights are carefully programmed and synced with other stop lights to minimize bottlenecks. It would make zero sense to allow interference by pedestrians. So those buttons do nothing except trigger that warning voice.

However, late at night, when bottlenecks and synchronization are not an issue, those same buttons come alive. As they should!

Other buttons actually work all day long because they aren’t in traffic critical areas.

So, if you have been pushing the buttons, don’t feel foolish. There is absolutely no harm in pushing the buttons and it might help.

On the other hand, If you have been thinking the world should stop at the touch of your finger, you really have been duped! And you should feel foolish. Look around you. You aren’t the only person trying to get from Point A to Point B.

But how about we put a damper on sensationalism and outrage. To do so, starts with you! When provoked:

  • Stop and question the accuracy of what you just heard.
  • Stop sharing sensationalist headlines.
  • Stop repeating half truths.
  • Stop fueling outrage.
  • Stop poking the bear!

Strive for clarity instead! 95% of conflict is caused by a lack of clarity. Don’t contribute to the mess!

Does your staff leap to conclusions about people and situations? Could you and your staff benefit from objective clarity? Give me a call. Let’s talk. Maybe I can be of service. 617-939-9654.

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