Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting to Yes

On Friday I was at a meeting at another college. Since I needed to take notes I used one of their computers. The background screen had a big "NO" -- no food, no cell phone use and no hats. The institution does not allow hats to be worn in the building.
The security guards will ask you to remove your winter hat, your baseball hat, fedora, Borsalino, Homburg, knit cap, sweat shirt hood, etc. It was interesting that the person running the meeting wore a straw cowboy hat.
A kipah or hajib (Muslim woman's head covering) is not considered a hat for this prohibition.

What really bothered me as well as a fellow librarian was the size of the word "no." The whole screen presented a negative image. Both of us said that restrictions could have been phrased in the positive such as : "Please respect the rights of others using the computers. Use your cell phone and eat in designated areas only."

I understand that food can get into the books and keyboards. Conversations on cell phone could disturb someone viewing a scholarly article. But please tell me how a quiet hat disturbs others. I did think of some amusing reasons for wearing a hat -- 1)Improper thought waves can be filtered through a hat and escape harmlessly rather than being forced to exit through the mouth; 2) Since the school's brain scanning device can not penetrate a hat, mind control is more difficult; 3) Computer users can hide flash drives in their hats or hair; 4)Baldness or buzz haircuts can be hidden; and 6) Teachers can say, "keep that idea under your hat."

Seriously -- in a well managed organization getting to "yes" is much better than forbidding an action. If one figures out a way to permit something it can be more easily controlled. If an action is forbidden that people want to do, they will find ways to hide the activity. Saying "yes" indicates more trust than "no." If one can't trust their people, they have bigger problems than hats.


Daniel Stuhlman said...

From Gavin F.
The prohibition of hats only remains a tradition from British nobles in olden times. My computer professor explained to me one day that the reason we cannot wear hats in the school is because... back in his day he could not wear hats, in fact he would be beaten with the ruler if he had a hat on.

Of course nowadays that doesn't cut it. I say wear the hats and keep Professor X out of our heads for good!

Anonymous said...

Great Post! I agree with you 100%. The only issue is that many who run such institutions are from an era where absolute obedience to their will is expected. They some how have missed modernity.

Mr. Clark said...

What is wrong with taking your hat off when in a public building. I don't understand why people refuse to take their hats off in church, during the national anthem, etc. Its a sign of respect.

Daniel Stuhlman said...

Mr. Clark,

You missed the whole point of the article. Look again at the title. For you removing a hat may be a sign of respect, but in other cultures wearing a head covering is a sign of respect or modesty.

Good Morning said...

You make a valid point about the implanting of the word NO. I want to be a cynic and say something like "This is representative of the institution" but it is true. Sigh. (Thanks for taking the notes.)