ISHN Guest BlogI’m riding to Southern California on the Amtrak San Joaquin as we approach the next train station along the way. A few minutes from the station, the conductor announces the next stop and encourages people to gather their belongings because it will be a quick stop. This little announcement continues stop after stop until we are about one half hour away from Bakersfield where the train route ends.

Now, there is a different announcement by the very same conductor. He says, “Please for your safety and the safety of the other passengers, remain in your seats until the train comes to a complete stop.”

Later he says, “We are just five minutes from Bakersfield. Please remain in your seats until we come to a full and complete stop.”

I watched as every person on the train stood and began to gather their belongings and head for the exits. These trains are not like the shuttle trains at the airports or subways with hand holds and railings to grab on to.

At first, I was shocked no one followed the safety instructions. As a safety speaker who is a trained communication expert, I began to determine the cause of this behavior.

It quickly came to me, the conductor was not consistent in his safety message. For more than 200 miles, he had told people to get up and gather their belongings because he did not want to have to stop at the next station any longer than necessary. Clearly, safety was not his primary concern. The train, running late, needed to make up time. Job one was getting people on and off the train.

At the final stop, time was no longer the major concern so the proper safety message was being shared. It was; however, overpowered by all the previous messages. Even though he repeated it several times before the final stop, the compliance was zero.

You may not consider yourself a safety speaker; however, you must understand that is what you do whenever you share a safety message. The question you must always ask yourself, “Is my message consistent with other messages I have given and is it consistent with my actions?”

Inconsistency will kill your effectiveness every time. People may not even be consciously aware of it.

Make sure your message and your actions are consistent. It is going beyond the old adage, “Walk your talk.”

Another example is if you focus one talk on production and another talk on quality. Later, you might talk about safety. I recommend you include each of these key values in each message you give. We must always create a quality product or service in the most profitable way possible and do both safely. This prevents people from thinking you are changing values and leaving one out.

Be safe.

Yours in Service,
John Drebinger