Bathroom Door Locked

There have been quite a few Human Talk examples taken from company signage, but here’s an interesting situation that a coffee shop in Raleigh found themselves in.

Dan Heath tells the story of how management’s decision to use vague corporate verbiage on a sign explaining to customers that the store bathroom was locked, led him to draw his own false conclusions about the situation. Heath said,

By keeping me at arm’s length from the real issue, the management allowed me to jump to false conclusions. (I assumed that the landlord was trying to keep non-paying customers from using the facilities, and I fumed about how petty that was.)

Read Heath’s full story and you will see that the reason the door was locked wasn’t necessarily something that could or that should be explained in full detail on a sign. Or should it? As Heath put it,

…isn’t there something to be said for the cold, hard, gross truth..

Clearly the coffee shops’ choice of what not to communicate to customers probably led most customers to negative assumptions. But question is, would the whole truth of why the bathrooms were locked, although very human, be appropriate? What should they have said?

What do you think? Is there a line? Can organizations be too human?

(Photo via: bitchcakesny)


This post is part of the Human Talk series. 

If you would like to contribute your good or bad Human Talk examples, Email me. I’ll accept photos, stories, videos, audio, etc. and give credit where credit is due.