Which Inconsistencies Do You Notice?

I travel a lot. I’ve noticed a trend in hotel rooms that irritate me: a very-high bed and very-low toilet—a design inconsistency. This past week, I stayed in a slightly too-high bed, a reasonable height toilet, but the shower head was mounted at least 8 feet off the ground. When I extended my arm, I didn’t come close to the shower head.

I find these inconsistencies irritating because jumping onto the bed makes me a little dizzy. Having a low toilet means I need to balance to stand up. And the shower head? Well, I get to choose what the previous guest chose. My only choice!

We, as humans, create inconsistencies for ourselves all the time. I wonder, if, in hotels, it’s an issue of what suppliers offer. Maybe the overall architect asked two different people for the outfitting: one person to manage the sleeping spaces and another person to manage the water spaces. That would create the inconsistency.

You might not notice the inconsistencies I notice. That’s what’s nice about working with a team of people—they are more likely to point out inconsistencies to each other.

I suspect we notice some inconsistencies because of our two thinking systems, fast and slow.

Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast and Slow, explains: the fast thinking system is the autonomous, intuitive system. That’s the system that says, “divide and conquer.” The slow system is our real logic system. That system is slow and takes effort to apply.

That’s not all. No, we are human!

Dan Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational, talks about the irrationality of decisions in our everyday design of our environment.

I notice a lot about the physical world because of my handicaps. I notice doors that are heavy because I use one hand to open them. The other hand is on my rollator. I notice restaurants that have tables so close that I hear the people next to me. I admit—I’m an eavesdropper. People are so interesting!

To me, these are inconsistencies. You might not think so.

I could go on about the inconsistencies in organizations, but that’s not for this blog.

The real issue is which inconsistencies do you notice? I’m not seeking perfection in the physical world. I’m not sure I can even describe what that is. I do see some ease.

Ease is when the inconsistencies we notice don’t affect our ability to do our jobs, to live in the world.

Ease isn’t the goal—it’s an effect of limiting inconsistencies, at least for some people. I suspect my travel experiences are different from yours. You might not notice the inconsistencies I see. You experience ease.

I like that. I like that we are all different, we all value different things. I do wish hotel rooms were just a little easier for me.

That is the question this week: Which inconsistencies do you notice?

6 thoughts on “Which Inconsistencies Do You Notice?

  1. Ken Flowers

    The one I notice is incongruity in staff. When they say, “Welcome to …” in a tone that says “Can you please shoot me,” I hear a bad manager whispering a rule in their ear, but not engendering passion in their staff. There’s one I am aware of for service desk staff: “Hi, I’m … I can help you.” When they mean it, it is great. When they don’t, it’s worse than awful.

    1. johanna Post author

      Oh my, yes! I wonder what the incentives/rewards/recognitions are…

      I guess I should have added, “Your call is very important to us.” Uh, no, too often, it’s not.

  2. Jim Grey

    I’m OCD – I notice all the inconsistencies.

    At a hotel my “favorite” thing is a shower head mounted too low. I’m 6 feet tall and it’s remarkable how often I have to stoop to wash my hair in a hotel.

    1. johanna Post author

      My first thought is that we should travel together. You could have the room with the ridiculously high shower head and I could have the room where I could reach it. Then, I thought, “Oh no!!”

      I do suspect that this is a classic example of “divide-and-conquer” where the people designing (architects) are not the people implementing (plumbers and other craftspeople). Even I, in all my TDS (Too Damn Shortness) prefer a high-enough shower head.

  3. Jack Vinson

    My favorite incongruities – or maybe just pet peeves – are when I cannot determine where to go at a conference / hotel / airport because the outfitting of the space doesn’t make it obvious and no one has provided workable signage. At hotels I always blame it on the familiarity problem – staff know where everything is, so they don’t see the need for clearer signs. That leaves conference dwellers to hunt around and get annoyed. (Or again, maybe that is just me.)

    I suspect you are right about the hotel outfitting. Plumbers plumb. Room designers do that. They don’t necessarily talk to each other.

    1. johanna Post author

      Jack, yes, I’d forgotten that happening just a few weeks ago. The event was called one thing, but the hotel called it something different. There were no arrows. I couldn’t tell where I was supposed to be and I was speaking.

      Sometimes, the signs are quite discreet. Light brown lettering on a dark brown sign, for example. I can’t read the damn thing. Or, 6 point font. (Okay, it might be 12 point, but you need to stand next to the sign to read it.) I guess I let this one get me started :-)

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