1. Hi George,

    An interesting point well made. It reminds me of a sign that was used in a pub that I worked at in my university days. The owners were annoyed by all of the cigarette ends that were thrown on the floor of the outside patio area. They made this sign:
    “If the floor and plant pots are full, by all means, feel free to use the ashtrays.”
    It worked a treat while raising a few smiles.



  2. I believe this article picks up on another issue. I remember we once hired a new secretary for a middle school. The new secretary brought a level of compassion and empathy to the students. This new person’s presence demonstrated how students should be treated. This new staff member created a stark difference between she treated students and the way others in the office did. I came to the realization that the other office personnel were actually rude to the students. We went through customer service training, courtesy awareness, etc. No matter what we did, that element of rudeness towards our middle school school students was always present. I say this because I believe the verbiage of signs is indicative of a bigger issue. Do people who work in schools love students? We need to look for staff members who are energized by the presence of students. We need people who do not want to yell at students but who will guide and mentor students. I believe it comes down to hiring practices. However, we need to elevate that characteristic of staff who love to be around students. I think if we elevate that characteristic, we will have restrictive verbiage on signs.

  3. George, this article, like so much of your writing, is spot-on. I work in the field of occupational safety. One of the paradoxes we face is that we want to reduce hazards, control risk and eliminate injuries. But doing this requires us to engage people, create caring relationships and encourage people to reach out. We can’t prevent our way to say — we must cause a safe work culture. I think you’re pointing to the same thing. Thanks and keep up the good work!

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