Have you ever considered how little most of us know about so many things? I learned something a few weeks ago about my car – and communication.
The picture below shows what popped up on my car’s dashboard halfway through a 50-minute drive. The little yellow-orange icon didn’t blink, but it didn’t go away either … and it scared me because I had no idea what it was. And honestly, with the exclamation mark in the middle, it looks like a serious warning, doesn’t it?
But from what? Why?
Everything in the car felt, looked, and smelled fine, so I kept on driving, asking my wonderful hard-working guardian angel to just let me get to my destination safely, where I could find out more about the icon.
When I got to my friend’s house, I showed her the picture I took, and she immediately knew what it was.
Low. Tire. Pressure.
Doesn’t that icon just scream “Low Tire Pressure” to you?
Doesn’t to me, either.
Now, I’m sure it’s mentioned in the huge book I received when I bought the car six years ago that describes every system in the car in excruciating detail, but who even knows where their book is? Who’s read it cover to cover? Who’s memorized every page?
Yeah. Neither have I.
For issues that are important enough to alert us to, why wouldn’t the designers make these icons look more like what they represent? Couldn’t the words “tire pressure,” “check tire,” or even just “tire” have been used? Couldn’t the icon have been designed to look like a wheel? Like a tire? Like something that made sense?
Luckily, it wasn’t immediately serious, but I did head over to the place my friend recommended that was right around the corner and got all four tires checked. There was nothing was wrong with any of them, except for one that was indeed a little lower than normal. No nail holes, no obvious trauma; just a little lower than it should have been.
So, lesson learned (for the umpteenth time)? The way we see things is not always the way others do. It’s important to check, especially if we receive an unexpected response to any kind of a message. Even if it’s not an important one, we do need to take the time to think about how someone will react or respond, realizing how different we all are.
George Bernard Shaw’s saying fits here: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Have you seen items like this that made no sense to you as an end user?