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  • Jill Helmer

Use Your Turn Signal

Updated: Jun 27, 2020

There is nothing more American than bumper to bumper traffic on a holiday, right? I had the opportunity last weekend to spend two days in the thick of it. On a beautiful Memorial Day weekend in the northeast when you are headed to a beach, it is unavoidable and I knew this, so I prepared for it, mentally and physically.


But hour after hour, it wore me down. My preparation seemed to be flying out the window with every mile. I found myself thinking about every thing that I wasn’t able to do, sitting there gridlocked. Lost in my thoughts and not paying full attention to my task at hand, I found myself getting frustrated and sloppy. It appeared that others were on the same page because they joined me. Turn signals and watching out for your neighbor became optional. Communication was thrown out the window and replaced with a beeping horn to let another driver know that you were not pleased with them. Tempers flared and we failed to recognize that we were all in the same boat and should be patient with one another. This was interesting to me. We were dependent on each other. Their fender bender would be my delay. Their safety was mine. Yet here we were acting like one car length ahead in line was worth the risk.


This has been a big week for me. It is crunch time and I have been preparing for it. There are big projects coming to the finish line, which means that a certain amount of gridlock is unavoidable. I know this and so I have prepared for it. In spite of my preparation, I find myself frustrated when I am not going fast enough. I find myself distracted by the million things that still have to be done on my list while I sit in bumper to bumper meetings. Some things are taking longer than expected, and the temptation is there…do you know the temptation? The temptation to not pay full attention to the task at hand. The temptation is to let my frustration rise and as it does to throw good communication patterns out the window.

In my work, I often observe that during crunch time (i.e. high traffic windows), teams often stop using their turn signals. When asked why they failed to communicate effectively, they justify it by saying that the other person or another department didn’t use their turn signal, either. They forget that the deadline is only achievable together, and they treat it like a solo competition.


It’s Thursday, two more days of bumper to bumper left in your work week. Prepare for your journey. Use your turn signal. Remember that the driver in back of you can either cause your delay or enable you get to your destination safely and efficiently. Your choice. Choose wisely.


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