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NYC subway manners campaign misses the mark?

NYC subway manners campaign misses the mark?

My oldest daughter and I spent last week in New York City. We covered nearly every square block of Manhattan, jumping in and out of the subway. The transit authority is running a campaign to encourage manners on board, and discouraging such things as “man-spread,” nail clipping, primping, or eating.

Manners may be a legitimate issue, but for the most part, the campaign takes the wrong approach. By addressing negative behaviours, the campaign actually reinforces them. According to social learning theory, people copy the behaviour of those around them. Rather that showing what not to do, the campaign would do better to illustrate the positive impact of good manners–a more pleasant commute for everyone–and help riders see themselves as everyday heroes who can help make it happen.

Do you fall into the same trap? Do you focus on telling your staff, volunteers, or suppliers what you don’t want, rather than what you do? More than talk, do you paint a bigger picture of why it matters? And do you help give them a sense of mission that inspires them to act?