by Liz Jansen
With the plethora of sensory inputs in the world today, the ability to communicate with intention is vital if you expect to be seen, heard, and—most importantly—understood.
Checking your motorcycle’s turn signals, brake lights, and headlights prior to going out for a ride is a wise practice. It gives you greater confidence in your ability to travel safely, knowing you can be seen. After all, there’s not a lot of room for error.
In life, asking a few clarifying questions confirms that the messages you intend to send out are what was received.
Such action goes a long way toward averting misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or miscued behavior.
- Brake lights on. While using your break lights signals that you’re slowing down or stopping, it’s only one indication. Still, it tells those coming up behind you to adjust their speed accordingly. Because you can slow down faster than most vehicles, you should confirm that others on the road have seen you by checking your mirrors and looking over both shoulders. The ability to sense danger and react appropriately can save your life. People don’t intuitively understand your intentions, and there are times when you need to add emphasis for clarity’s sake.
- Brake lights off. You’re about to accelerate. At least, that’s the message the driver behind you receives when your brake light goes off. You may be simply resting, but all that the driver behind you sees is the light come off when you release the brakes. He or she figures you’re moving off and does the same, bumping into you. Be clear on your intentions. It helps avoid misunderstandings.
- Turn signals. Used when you’re about to pull out to pass, change lanes, pull off onto the shoulder, take an exit ramp, or turn onto a side street, turn signals indicate a change in direction. Life changes are a regular occurrence. Giving others advance notice of what you’re doing allows them to lend support, avoids catching them off-guard, and prevents conflict.
- Pointing. Pointing is common when group riding. Using your hand or foot to point to road hazards communicates the danger to others who are following, giving them an opportunity to respond proactively. Alerting others to pitfalls we have dealt with can prevent them from having to go through the same experience. But you can only advise. Accept that they need to be watching and receptive, and that their response is up to them.
- High-visibility gear. Being visible on the road is one more way of alerting other traffic that you’re there. Confidence and courage convey the message that you’re there and acting with purpose. You don’t have to be loud. Just be you! You can have the highest intentions, the strongest skills, and the best resources, but if you try to blend in with the crowd, you’re ineffective.
- Horn. Sometimes you need to be loud to attract attention. It not only keeps you safe, but reminds others around you to pay attention. Sometimes extraordinary measures are necessary to get noticed, especially where safety is concerned.
- Shoulder checks. Wise is the rider that does regular shoulder checks. Not only does it alert you to potential hazards, but your movement also wakes up the driver behind you and alerts them that something is changing. In any life situation, it’s wise to stay alert to what’s going on in your immediate surroundings so you can be proactive.
- Hand signals. This can be anything from a greeting to a warning to give you your space, or it could be reinforcing your turn signal’s message of a change in direction. Hands touch, gesture, and show kindness. They communicate volumes.
- Headlight flash. While it can mean “Cops ahead,” it’s also a courtesy, giving your approval for a driver to turn in front of you. For obvious reasons, it’s very important that this is clearly understood. The higher the potential consequences of being misunderstood, the greater the need to make sure your intentions are clear.
- Use multiple outputs. The richer the communication, the greater the likelihood that you’ll be seen and understood. When riding or in life, that means using a combination of outputs as appropriate to make sure your intentions are clear. The greater the importance of sending effective communications, the greater the importance of being clear with your intentions.
Whether you know it or not, you give signals all the time. Use these tips to improve your ability to communicate with intention. Clear, explicit messages, backed up with clarifying behavior, confirm your intentions and make your journey that much more enjoyable.
Read more life tips in 75 Tips for Connecting Through Communication. Free Download for a limited time.