Use Your Signals: They are there for a reason!

This is a metaphor for life, also it is a practical tip. Perhaps you would have figured out the metaphor but I am going to make it really, really obvious, I am also hoping that the superficial story here is absorbed; it is what we could call a win-win of advice.

Use your signals in your car. That is the part that is superficial (but also really important). Using signals makes it a hell of a lot easier to get what you want from other people, and it helps every relationship by avoiding resentment, frustration, and creates honesty in our communications (this is the conclusion of the metaphor part of the story). If you get it you can stop here, if you want more read on!

I spend a lot of time driving on city streets. Because I don’t have a commute anymore the majority of the driving I do is around town. I drive my son to school, I do errands, I go to appointments. I live in a semi-urban area so driving on city streets does involve a certain amount of freeways but not in a commute kind of way, more of a which route do I want to go at this time of day kind of thing. There are all the usual things you expect to find when driving around: stop signs, traffic circles, lights, pot-holes to be avoided, inadvertent one way streets because of parked cars, garbage trucks, pedestrians, cyclists (no you are not going thirty no matter how tight your lycra is) – all that kind of thing you find when motoring about town, and all stuff that we all have to deal with, it is shared experience this road thing (also this life thing).

So when you are driving down a street and all the cars are going one direction it is reasonable to expect the people around you to keep going that direction. Driving requires that you make a certain amount of assumptions about your fellow drivers. That is why it comes as a surprise and people get frustrated when one car abruptly stops in the middle of the intersection for no apparent reason. There is honking and shouting and irritation and an increase of blood pressure and, oh you were turning left, who knew? Only you, because you DID NOT USE YOUR SIGNAL so the only person who knew what you were doing was you and and all around there are people confused, frustrated, and concerned. (See where the metaphor about inter-personal communications is going to come in?). I could write a lot about my frustration with the behavior of other drivers. Today I will confine myself to the persistent lack of signal use in my community. When you use your turn signal you let the people around you (both behind and coming from the opposite direction) know what it is that you intend to do, you give them an idea of what to expect and it allows them to prepare appropriately. The people around you may not like what you are doing (I am never happy about being behind the guy going left when I want to go through) but at some level they will appreciate at least having the information.

Let’s apply this to our relationships: has anyone ever said to you, “if you loved me you would know.” Those are terrible words because I don’t believe that there is any link between love and psychic abilities. You have to tell the people around you what you need, you have to declare what you want, what you are planning to do, what you mean. You have to give them a signal about what is going on if you want them to respond with any kind of understanding. You stand a much better chance of getting what you want if you ask for it directly. Use you signals, it just makes life easier for everyone!

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