Posts Tagged ‘signals’

Bad signalling


A couple of weeks ago, I was driving behind a cab, ready to turn left in the next street, when I was surprised by the taxi driver turning on his turn-light, signalling me he was also going to turn left. I smiled internally, thinking of my previous blog entry about signalling, but the driver stopped a couple of meters before the street, and waited there. Of course, with myself stucked behind him and trying to maneuver to follow my way. He pissed me off, but for not too long.

I talked about the importance of signalling, being it to get help from others or to help others to plan their actions. In the case I mentioned, the taxi driver’s action of using the turn light was as if he were saying me “Hey, no need to overpass me! I will turn shortly”. But no, he was not. It was a terrible signal. I understood he was helping me, but his action made me change my probable course of action and I ended worse than with no signalling at all.

In fact, it can be a hell of a strategy. You signal a competitor that you are going to increase your prices, for example, and you do nothing after his price increase. Or you can tell your team you will probably go to another area so they fight for your future vacant site, increasing some performance figure, but do nothing. It has its drawbacks, also: people learn. The human being is no stupid. Someone said that one can fool few people for a long time, or many people for a short time; but even that truth is limited: those few learn and next time will be very difficult to cheat.

I really prefer not to bad signal. I have a reputation and that reputation is my presentation letter, and the reason why many people at my company trust me and my decisions. It is a way of life.

Going on with the taxi driver’s case, I finally maneuvered to overpass him and, ready to curse him, I saw his front yellow turn-right light turn on and blinking, as I saw the rear-left one. I understood immediately: the driver put the emergency stop lights, not the left turn light, but probably the rear-right light was burnt off. His real message was “Hey! Overpassme, since I will stop and I don’t wat you getting stuck behind me”. A lesson to learn.

Being my main professional background about communications engineering, I could easily explain the problem as “line noise”. A message is deliverd, another message arrived, and was the message arrived which was interpreted. I didn’t misunderstood the message; I was interpreting the incorrect one. Anyway, the lesson here would be: ensure about the understanding of the receiving part is coherent with the message you intended to send. People’s histories are very different, and each history lead us to interpretation of a message in a different way. And that is not taking into account the different cultures, where the gap can be larger.

Speaking about signals, please, can someone signal me that this post is being read?  Any kind of signal :-)


    Diego :D