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Handicap Parking Only - A social experiment in communication
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When a friend of mine asked me to volunteer to help with handicap parking for the Heard Museum Indian Fair in central Phoenix, I thought this would be a great way to help a friend and help my community. I didn't realize it was going to be an opportunity to run a social experiment but I am never one to pass on the opportunity to analyze the minutiae of daily life.
The week before I was scheduled to volunteer, my friend had given me a run down on what to expect for the day. He had warned me I would spend a good portion of the day convincing people who are not handicapped to not park in the handicap only parking spaces. I asked him why he was experiencing problems. Were signs not posted? He assured me they were but they did not stop people from trying to park in the spaces anyhow.
Although I was looking forward to helping, I was not looking forward to arguing with people all day long. So I decided to bring two hand held signs I had crafted with the words “Handicap Parking Only”. I felt certain this would reduce the amount of problems since I had envisioned people not reading the signs on the ground. As it turns out I was right (love when that happens – it is a rarity). My friend was very surprised to see an immediate decrease in the problems he had been experiencing. It really stood out when he would forget to hold the sign. People would try to pull in immediately.
So what can we all take from this?
A. Some people are far less concerned for the convenience of others than they are for themselves.
B. People are intrinsically attracted to other humans for visual clues rather than objects.
C.Efficiencies and effectiveness can be gained from the smallest of changes.
On point A, some are more closely tied to their animal instincts than others. I could see people visibly angry by the fact they were not allowed in the lot. Yet most were incredibly gracious about it.
On point B, I had a feeling that physically holding a sign would not only create more of a visual clue than the sign on the ground but the person behind the sign would garner more attention because humans are by nature attracted to each other. You can’t have a relationship with a sign (well most of us can’t;-) but you can with another human. How we relate to each other is the cornerstone of communication. Tapping into this will yield plenty.
On point C, opportunities surround us everyday where we can improve our business, our lives and the welfare of others. When we fight change, we fight the opportunity to grow.
How many “Handicap Parking Only” situations do you have in your life where there might be a better way just lurking around the corner? Do you ever feel entrenched in a method or a view. I know I do. More than I would like to admit. But if there is one thing I do well, it is to look at the world at a different angle. Sometimes it works for me and sometimes it doesn’t but I am willing to take the risk.