The other day at a coffee shop in Anacortes, WA, I saw one of these nail balancing puzzles at the counter where people stand to wait for their espresso drinks.
It had a sign under it reading:
If you touch this, it will fall down.
I asked the woman making my latte how often people touched it.
She laughed and told me that she was performing an experiment.
At first the sign read,
But people touched it all the time. It got knocked down four or five times a day.
Then she changed the sign to:
Don’t Touch. For sale. $500.
People STILL touched it.
But once she changed it to a clear statement of action and consequence, people stopped touching it.
The lesson: People pay attention not when they’re told what to do, but when they’re given the tools they need to form their own conclusions about whether or not a certain course of action is a good one.
Photo by Elisfanclub via Flickr