The many rules strip us of the most important thing: the ability to be considerate. We’re losing our capacity for socially responsible behavior. The greater the number of prescriptions, the more people’s sense of personal responsibility dwindles.
The inner cities are crowded with a colorful thicket of metal signs. Don’t park over here, watch out for passing deer over there, make sure you don’t skid. The forest of signs is growing ever denser. Some 20 million traffic signs have already been set up all over the country.
Psychologists have long revealed the senselessness of such exaggerated regulation. About 70 percent of traffic signs are ignored by drivers. What’s more, the glut of prohibitions is tantamount to treating the driver like a child and it also foments resentment.
So no signs – then what? Didn’t the signs emerge because people weren’t treating the commons – be it the streets, the kitchen or the Earth – with a sense of responsibility to others?
Potential approaches to dealing with kitchen slobs suggested by commenters on the article included the absolutist:
Easy solution. Have a volunteer throw all dishes standing around at 5pm (or nominated time) in the bin. No exceptions. It won’t take long before people stop using the kitchen as a dumping ground.
…which doesn’t always work fairly:
I’ve used the chuck it in the bin method, but that can backfire when some schmuck decides to use your own personal mug and leaves it half full of coffee on the sink.
…to the more creative and beneficial:
I take anything left on the bench (without cleaning it) and put it in a box. If anyone wants their stuff back it will be a gold coin donation to our Christmas party fund. Anything left at the end of the week is washed and donated to charity.
…to the (hopefully) tongue-in-cheek comical:
In our office we secretly got together and decided to try a social experiment. We found out the most anal retentive person in the office excluded them from the meeting and decided to never ever wash dishes and see how long before they went postal.
Funny, right? But there are people who will deliberately sabotage your efforts, just to get a rise out of you.
I worked with someone once who was known as the office ‘eco-nazi’. One of our colleagues would deliberately put recyclable items in his bin specifically so she would find it and fly off the handle. Don’t be that person! Once the antagonist is not getting the payoff of a reaction, the behaviour will change – and even if it doesn’t, so what? Remember, the recalcitrants can chew up a disproportionate amount of your time and energy which could be better spent on helping shift a larger majority who are receptive to change, but just need better information, convenient systems, or a prompt.
Taking the approach of the article commenter who holds colleagues’ stuff to ransom – which is a game – why not introduce game dynamics to help create a shift?