Admit it, you’re like me. When I hear the honk, honk, honk of a car alarm, my first thought is not “Oh no, danger, I must see what the danger may be.” No, my first thought is, “How annoying, I wonder how much longer that honking is going to continue.”
Car alarms are not really alarms any more. Perhaps they scare off thieves, although I’ve even seen experts and former criminals suggest the car alarm only leads them to damage the car more from an even more hasty break in.
For years car alarms have been so commonly just false alarms, few people give them much thought now as a signal of real danger. Car alarms have cried wolf too many times, and now are just an irritant to most people.
So how do car alarms fit into effective communication? Let me ask you, “What are you a car alarm about?” That is, what have you said so many times, no one listens? Do you harp on a danger that never comes to pass? Have your threats been idle so long, they are now a punch line? Have you declared something over and over, yet it never is right?
Like the owner of a car with an alarm, we often fool ourselves into believing our own honk, honk, honk is important, while those around us just want the annoyance to stop.
Glenn S. Phillips is the author of the book Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. You can email Glenn directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glenn is also the president of Forte’ Incorporated, a consulting firm that works with business leaders to understand and address the often hidden technology and business risks lurking within their organizations.
© Copyright 2013. Glenn S. Phillips, Forte’ Incorporated. (205) 985-1111