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Are You Flushing Your Message?

Dsc_0097This past weekend at SOBCon, Kristen King advised us all (via Twitter) of an interesting issue.  There was a placard in the women's restroom advising people to turn off their lavalier microphones BEFORE using the facilities.  Sage advice.  The only problem was that the sign was posted on the inside of the bathroom door, so people didn't see it until exiting.  (By the way, thanks, Kristen, for humoring me by taking my camera into the women's room to capture this phenomenon... evidently the men in Chicago don't make this faux pas.)

Are you giving people warning messages at the right time and in the right way?  Are you posting the messages WHERE they'll see them and WHEN they'll need them?  I've seen too many professionals who "conveniently bury" critical messages.  I've seen others who have ignored those same messages.  So, how can we communicate better?

Before you deliver a message, use the military approach of HUA:

  • Will the recipient HEAR the message?  How can I make them listen to it?
  • What can I do to make them UNDERSTAND the message (both the content and the importance)?
  • In what ways can they convey their ACKNOWLEDGMENT of the message?

And turn off your microphones in the restroom... PLEASE!


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Kristen King

Unfortunately, the main effect this sign is likely to have (aside from amusing us all weekend) is making people not want to come OUT of the bathroom after realizing that their mic has been on the whole time. The last thing we want to do is make our audience feel betrayed, however unintentionally we may do it.


Timothy Johnson

Great point, Kristen. The last thing anybody wants to see is a retreating communicator. :)

Robert Hruzek

Back when I got my first cell phone, I called a friend of mine and happened to walk into the restroom while still on the call. Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking too clearly, and accidentally flushed before signing off! I tried to cover up the noise (probably unsuccessfully - but he never let on) by clearing my throat real loud, but alas, the faux pas was impossible to take back. *Sigh*

Timothy Johnson

Bob - I wonder how many social screw-ups are covered by the ubiquitous clearing of the throat. Thanks for making me smile today.


I like the military approach of HUA. I've never heard of it before. In fact, I'll copy it and pate on my notice board at work. Do you mind if I blog about it sometime?

If we can employ this approach in all our inter-personal relationships I am sure there would be less mis-understanding in the world.

Thank you Timothy for the comment you left on my blog. It really encouraged me.

Brad Shorr

LOL. I suppose the best place for the placard would be on the door leading into the washroom, but that wouldn't do much for ambiance.

Timothy Johnson

Sharon - I would be honored that you think HUA is worth blogging about. Go for it! And you are very welcome for the comment. It was a great post, and you handled the situation very well.

Brad - yeah... ambiance. Real, honest communication sometimes can be pretty ugly at times... necessary, but not nice looking.

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