Warning Labels Aren’t for Humans

by Jessica Delaney, Principal, Engagement + Strategic Communications

I was recently at one of the kids’ favourite places, the Kangaroo Creek Farm. I saw this sign and laughed out loud. I love that it’s direct and visual. You engage with this guy, and you might lose your finger.

In our line of work, we engage with some people and might also lose a finger, lose our sense of safety, or worse. Animals can be highly defensive and simply react as is their nature, but I do not believe the same is acceptable for people. I have seen people engage in a purely emotional, often defensive way, and in doing so they create harm and possibly trauma for others.

I have heard people say they simply don’t want “those people” in their neighbourhood during engagements on supportive housing. I have heard people share that they “don’t want to see a new supportive housing building” because it will block their view, or that all people experiencing homelessness use drugs. In short, I have heard language that is unsafe and inflammatory from people who are afraid of change.

I get that change is hard. I get that individuals have needs, preferences, and differences of opinion. I welcome differences of perspective, but I don’t recognize that because someone is impacted by a decision, they have a right to create harm or trauma for other participants, staff, or consultants.

So as we move into a more intense period of engagement, I would encourage you to think about:

  1. Facilitating safe spaces and always establishing operating values. Download an operating values poster here!
  2. Focus on managing yourself and not being a person who needs a warning label.
  3. Engage in the day-to-day with kindness.

To help you, we have create a free downloadable poster of operating values (see link below).

Remember: warning labels are for birds, not humans.

Download: Operating Values Poster