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When our nation is under fire, when our soldiers are engaged in dangerous conflict, stress levels can run high. For those directly and indirectly affected by the current situation, there are ways of responding that can ease the sense of stress.
“He did it againnnn! Can you believe it?!” Well, actually I can. I’ve had clients and friends come to me time and time again with stories about the particular nemesis in their lives. They have a look of horror and disbelief as they relate stories already familiar to me. “My boss took credit for my work, again!” “My mother-in-law is trying to dominate the holiday, again!” “My spouse just sat there when our son arrived late, again!” “My colleague sat down uninvited and interrupted my work, again!” I do listen with sympathy. The relater of the story is truly in distress. And my simultaneous thought is “And you are surprised because?”
“You weren’t listening to me!” “Yes I was! You said…” And they in fact repeat back exactly what we have just said. Familiar interaction? And yet, have you ever felt less than satisfied when that happens? Why this lack of satisfaction? What has happened, or perhaps more accurately, what has not happened They obviously did hear us, so what is still missing? What are we actually trying to do when we communicate?
An important resilient expectation is Realistic Optimism. We are realistic in that we expect the road of life to have bumps, and we are optimistic in that we believe we can or will be able to manage the bumps. Sometimes these bumps are external, a challenge at our work, a health issue, children that do not admire and agree with every utterance from our mouths. And sometimes these bumps are internal, we lose our temper easily, we tend to procrastinate, we react before we think.
Organizational studies suggest that one of the things employees most desire and least feel is acknowledgement, recognition for effort and work well done. People will grumble about their boss not addressing this important issue. And yet we are often similarly neglectful in the way we relate to ourselves.
Ever notice how sometimes people ask a question when they really do not have a question? Recently I approached an office building where the gate at the entrance booth was open. I pulled up past the gate to the window where the guard was sitting, and opened my window to say where I was headed. The guard asked: “Why did you pull up past the gate?” I attempted to answer. However, as the guard repeated the question, I noticed a slightly annoyed and slightly frustrated feeling growing inside me.
“I’m confused”, clients have said with a look of dismay. “Great!” I say. “That is the first step toward new thinking.” We humans use routine thinking for routine situations. We compartmentalize incoming data to help us manage the vast amounts of information coming our way. Hmm, seat, back, some legs – goes into our “chair” compartment of our thinking, and then we can move on to another thought
There is an important distinction when we judge people, versus judging objects or ideas. Judging a person’s qualifications or behaviors can appropriately guide us toward fitting actions. Regarding a person or a person’s character, it may be more helpful, and more resilient, to focus on compassion and on making decisions rather than judgments.
“My truth is not fact.” a client recently declared to me. It was a magical moment of insight.
Flexible thinking is a characteristic of high-level resilience. This is the ability to consider multiple perspectives, to consider different possible understandings of a situation or problem, as well as resulting different possibilities for action. Flexible thinking gives us greater choice and so a greater sense of control, contributing to an increased sense of psychological well-being.
Design Pet Peeve #7: Lack of Correlation. Correlation means agreement among parts, interrelationship, or connection. In design, the short meaning is that once an element of any kind is introduced into a system or project, the look, size, and placement of that element should remain the same throughout its use. It can be color-coding, type styles, shapes, sizes, placement, or the like. But, a breakdown of standardized usage in a design can produce a confusing or downright dangerous situation. I’ll give one example of poor correlation: E-mail and document-forwarding sites allow you to include attachments with the prompt button marked “attach” or “attachment.” But on some sites, when you get to the point where you have an attachment ready to include, the prompt button says “enclose,” or worse, “open,” instead of “attach.” This may seem like a minor point, but if you were to expand the dilemma created by this type of poor correlation to something larger, like a web site or the logic of a building’s layout, the results would be confusion and frustration. If extrapolated to the scale of an airport communications system, the results could border on catastrophic
Design Pet Peeve #6: The Incubation Principal: In small as well as large arenas of life, there is lag time between the beginning of an action or cause and an inevitable reaction or effect: in other words, an incubation period. Have you ever placed a glass of water with ice in it on a table, and rotated the glass slowly around? Did you notice how long it takes for the ice to start rotating as long as it doesn’t touch the glass? Or, for that matter, how long it takes the ice to stop after you have stopped rotating the glass? Molecules of water have to move by friction from the glass inward until they reach the ice: that’s a form of incubation common in the physical world. On a cosmic scale, the coldest days of winter always come after the shortest day, as do the hottest days of summer follow the longest. The same principal applies in immunology. Several communicable diseases, such as measles and chicken pox, are at their most contagious just prior to their symptoms manifesting themselves externally. Some say this is what is happening to the Earth right now; that we have passed a tipping point with our profligate misuse and cavalier “disposal” of the Earth’s resources, incubating our own destruction for centuries, and from now on, no matter what we do, our climate, air, water, and soil will continue to degrade until eventually the Earth will correct the situation by curing the disease: humans. This sounds defeatist and dire for our species, and may indeed be true, but what does design have to do with all this, you ask? Ideally, everything.
Design Pet Peeve #5: Let’s address the specific design principal of Consistency: The use of elements the same throughout a system no matter where or how they are employed; and how the lack thereof can cause stress, frustration, and sometimes dangerous situations. Since I spend a great deal of my design time on signs, I will use them as my examples. Traveling by car to a new destination without the aid of an accurate GPS unit can be highly stressful. If your destination is a major attraction such as a specific spot within an airport, the signs should lead you right to it, like Hansel and Gretel breadcrumbs strewn on a forest path. But just as in the fairy tail, sometimes those breadcrumbs mysteriously disappear mid-journey. And sometimes, the design, color scheme, size, placement, symbology, or text content change from sign to sign or location to location, making the journey all that much more frustrating.
Design Pet Peeve #4: Unreadable text. Can’t find that shop? Can’t read what’s on that jar? How many signs or labels around the world do you know that are unreadable or confusing for one reason or another? I know a lot.
Design and place human-scale objects taking into account the largest number of potential users with the widest range of physical abilities; in other words, to design universally. Design Considerations. Questions to ask while developing designs for any two- or three-dimensional purpose. Not all necessarily apply to all designs. The most important consideration from the beginning of the design process is the ultimate outcome of the design, the end-user, and their interaction with one-another.
The Design Process. A generic guide that can be adapted for use through any design development.
Design Pet Peeve #2: Sales Receipts. In the USA there is a standard chart-style label mandated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for inclusion on most food packages. Similar charts are required or recommended in many other countries including Australia, New Zealand, India, Mexico, Canada, and the European Union. In the USA, it’s a small black and white list titled “Nutrition Facts. Are you familiar with it? The label was controversial at the time the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required it in 1994, but has since gone on to be considered one of the finest single design breakthroughs in the history of graphic design. Why? Because each label has more-or-less the same look, layout, size, shape, content, and placement no matter what product it explains.