Communication Breakdown – Is It About Horn-use?

There were horns blaring, tires screeching, and fingers waving in the air from several drivers I could see.  From the expressions on their faces, I don’t think the middle-finger wave was to say, “You’re number one!”  Luckily no one was physically hurt.  But I’m guessing there was stress, anger, and emotional pain felt by the people directly involved, and by others who were close-by.

This incident was in Edmonton, Alberta.  I’ve seen similar things from Victoria, British Columbia to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories to San Diego, California.

This got me pondering, generally and specifically.

Generally, did Henry Ford and the architects of our automobiles install horns for this purpose?

And specifically, is our automobile horn-use an extension of our mouth, which spews out our reactions to the stress in our lives?

And specifically, how does our horn-blaring affect our own well-being, others directly involved, and innocent bystanders?

Here’s a contrast for you.

On a recent trip to the Caribbean islands, Carol and I experienced a different purpose for horn-use.  We saw taxis, trucks, tour buses, and personal vehicles safely and effectively moving up and down steep hills, under low trees, around hair-pin turns, on narrow straight stretches, and merging in and out of congested freeways.  The drivers used their horns for a different kind of communication.

There were “beep, beeps” to indicate:
“If you are around this sharp turn, please pay attention.  It’s narrow, steep, and I need the whole road.”
“Merge into the traffic in front of me.  I’ll leave a spot for you.”
“Go ahead and make your turn.  I’m happy to help.”
“Hey Mon, good to see ya, Mon!”

On the streets, pedestrians had the right-of-way.  A smiling driver waving a hand, or a quick “beep, beep” meant, “Go ahead, I’ll wait.”

Generally, I’m curious if the beep-beep Caribbean drivers had a stress level similar to our horn-blaring North American drivers.  And I’m curious if those friendly “beep, beeps” affected the demeanour of nearby people.

And specifically, how do you use your horn – the one in your vehicle and the one installed on your face?  How does your horn-use affect you, others involved, and bystanders?

Many of our coaching clients come to us because of ineffective horn-blaring in their personal and business relationships.  The friendly, romantic “beep, beeps” mutate into ugly foghorn blasts and finger-waving that mean, “I am right and I have the power.  You are wrong, and I’m going to prove it to you in a spiteful way.”  This can happen directly at the person, or behind their back.  Most people agree this happens for others, but they will deny this occurs for them.

This ineffective horn-use adds unnecessary stress and emotional pain for them, and anyone close-by, including their children.  Unfortunately, most people don’t look for help until the emotional pain is excruciating.

I know this is true because it occurred for me in the past.  I was very fortunate and learned the lessons I needed.   Sometimes the help is too late for people to rebuild their relationships.

Is this normal in a relationship?  In our North American society, it seems so.  However, our divorce, abuse, and family violence statistics indicate it is far from effective.

There’s no reason to worry, feel guilty, or horn-moan about this.  There are tons of successful, respectful, loving relationships in our society too.  These don’t happen by chance.  They are created by friendly horn-use.  Somebody needs to be the positive resultants on the statistics.  It might as well be you and me.

So, here’s the challenge for you, if you choose to accept it.  Consciously, consistently, and persistently use your horn for loving, respectful purposes.

Can you use your horn in these ways?

•    Start the day with friendly “beep, beeps”.  A “Good morning,” “It’s great to see you,” or “I love you” prime the day for success.  Avoid honking about the news – that’s a sure-fire way to soil your day (yes that word is purposely ‘soil’).
•    Ask how you can help someone else in their day.  Asking is a great way to stimulate discussions to find solutions and resolutions.  Be willing to take the next step to listen – it’s at least as important as the asking.  And be genuinely willing to joyfully help the other person in a way they want – not the way you think it “should” be done.
•    Tell others about specific things you like and admire about them – behaviours, abilities, physical traits, etc.  Honk about them.  The positive recognition will counteract negative recognition they experience throughout their day.
•    Honk your own horn, privately.  Affirm to yourself the amazing qualities, abilities, talents, and passions you possess.  I’m guessing that you don’t consciously credit yourself for your true value.  Unless asked, there is no reason to honk about yourself to others.  Quite frankly, they don’t care.
•    “Beep, beep” because you choose to be happy.  Laugh because you can.  Sing because you have a song.  Whistle at will.  Whoop it up.  You can do it!

You can use your horn for whatever purpose you choose.  It is always your choice.  You can also choose when to silence your horn.

Only you know how your horn-use will affect your experience of life.  Only you know what you will lose if you use your horn ineffectively.

Why not consciously, consistently, and persistently use, or refrain from using your horn in a way that enhances trust, cooperation, honesty, acceptance, and love everywhere you go?

It’ your choice!  Honk if you’re _________________ (you fill in the blank).