June 2014 – Why Isn’t Common Sense More Common?

Do you ever feel like we may be “dumbing down”?  Common sense must work in cycles and in the cases below, it looks like we’re not at the top of the common sense curve.

Exhibit A- A tag found on a hair dryer at Sears: “Do not use while sleeping”.

(Is that when you planned that new hair style?)

Exhibit B -Found on a Frito bag: “You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.”

(Is this to encourage shoplifting?)

Exhibit C- On a Rowenta iron, a warning: “Do not iron clothes on your body.”

(The time you save may be spent in the Emergency Room.)

Exhibit D- On a Marks and Spencer Bread Pudding package: “Product may be hot after heating.”

Exhibit E- Printed on the bottom of a Tesco’s Tiramisu dessert: “Do not turn upside down.”

(Oops….too late!)

Exhibit F- On Boot’s Children’s Cough Medicine: “Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication.”

(Construction accidents could be vastly reduced if we could just keep those five year olds, with head colds, off of forklifts.)

Exhibit G- Found on Nytol Sleep Aid packaging: “Warning may cause drowsiness.”

(Why exactly were you going to take this anyway?)

Exhibit H – Found on a children’s Superman costume: “Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly”

(Do you blame, the company or the parents for this one?)

There really is no substitute for common sense. We can teach it, train it, and learn it, but don’t go out in the world without it. We need to realize that when television is as much of a parent as parents are, that perhaps the learning process is impaired.  We have created an instant society which expects instant results but common sense is a slow development process that needs nurturing and experience. I think most of us are in a common sense teaching capacity all our lives. We teach our co-workers, our families, and even our customers what to expect and how to expect it.  It takes clear definition and often lots of patience to get people’s thinking on track. Often to get their attention, you need to relax them by showing them what is in it for them to learn and use common sense.

Common sense involves thinking a process through to pre-determine the effects of your actions and committing to those actions in a manner that shows others you will stand behind what you do. It means not trying to pin the blame on someone else when things go wrong. Think of blame from a common sense standpoint…when did blame ever solve a problem? See what I mean? Does it make sense to build a society around what people are not willing to learn and what responsibilities they are not willing to take, or does it make sense to look a little further down the road to see what happens when our short term actions become long term results?

Is it really McDonalds’ fault  when you spill their coffee in your lap? Is it the bartender’s responsibility to monitor your cocktail intake? Should you have to pay legal fees for your defense against a frivolous lawsuit brought against you by someone who knows it will be cheaper for you to settle the case than to defend yourself or should the person bringing that suit be responsible for all fees if they lose in court?

All of the above have been brought to you by the country that packages the bag of peanuts, served on an un-named airline I recently flew, with the instructions- “Open packet, eat nuts”.  (I rest my case!)

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” ― Thomas Edison


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