Along with the candle in a Bath&Body Works bag came a 5” x 10” piece of cardboard with “Important Candle Safety Information.” This sheet outlined such items as a WARNING that candles were a fire hazard and that you should NEVER burn candles on or near anything that can catch fire. I wonder what lawsuit compelled the company to spend its money on something that is so patently obvious to virtually everyone.

Where do we draw the line and leave people to discern evident behaviors for themselves? Milk doesn’t come with a WARNING: Refrigerate or your milk will curdle. Doors don’t say CAUTION: If you leave this equipment unlocked you could be burglarized. Computers aren’t plastered with stickers reading DO NOT IMMERSE IN WATER. Glasses aren’t imprinted with CAUTION: this will shatter if dropped.

Resist the urge to over-explain instructions and to excessively compensate with warnings. Save your money and the trees. No placard or caution sticker is going to change the behavior of those who are oblivious to the apparent and commonsense use of an everyday item.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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