Some strange advice I got as a kid was, “If you’re in trouble you shouldn’t call for HELP. Instead, you should call FIRE.
Children are taught this because a cry for fire will always get more attention than a cry for help. This is because fire threatens everyone’s safety and therefore elicits a response. It causes alarm, curiosity and panic in others that draw them together. Some will want to put out the fire, others will want to see it burn.
On the other hand shouting for HELP is an invitation, and not one that everyone is willing to answer. Instead, it opens up more questions and more uncertainty. Can I even help this person? How long will this take? Am I too busy?
Unfortunately, this also applies professionally.
Too often I hear clients who don’t feel heard and repeat the same requests and problems to their manager. And just like when asking for help, it’s not getting attention, but it really should.
Sometimes they notice that the fire department is understaffed or funded. Other times they’re being proactive and smelling smoke. But unfortunately, no one can hear them or wants to hear them.
For communication to be effective you need to have a message receiver and other
people’s poor listening doesn’t help. So how do you draw attention and motivate action? Call a FIRE!
Don’t bluff, find the FIRE.