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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 11-Apr-07


Wednesday 11-April-07

Traffic lights, badges and romance

One of the most enduring problems on the social scene is meeting and talking to people. Either you want to meet other people just for conversation or maybe you are looking for a romantic relationship or whatever. The problem is that the fear of getting it wrong and embarrassing ourselves or other people leads many people into a stasis of inaction and consequent frustration.

24:London is a trendy London club that has taken an interesting approach to this problem. On Thursdays they have a 'Traffic Lights' evening when everyone wears button badges that are red, amber or green. The general idea is that a green badge means 'I am single and available', a red badge means 'I am not looking for romance' and an amber badge means 'I am undecided'. On top of this, each badge contains a message, which you can choose. Thus red badges include 'Trying out celibacy' and 'Married but still like attention', whilst green badges include 'Looking for fun' and 'Talk to me'.

What is interesting is that the result of wearing badges is that everybody ends up talking. The reds are not left out nor left to talk to one another. Just by knowing the other person's position, you feel able to talk to them in the right way. The rules about badges are also quite flexible and cautious people who started off amber or even red can change to a different colour (and message) as they become more confident.

In a similar vein, there's a guy named Scott who wears a name badge all the time that says 'Hello, my name is Scott'. In the same way as the 24 traffic-light badges, his badge sends a signal that he is very happy to talk to people, and indeed people do talk to him all the time. He has written three books and made a complete living out of this very simple trick. Of course he is a gregarious extravert and loves to talk with people. If you are an introvert, wearing such a badge would probably seem like anathema. But if you want other people to walk right up to you and chat then you can do no easier thing.

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