The herd mentality

long queue
pic credit

At airports, especially at immigration points, people queue up to the longest tail. I am not kidding, I know, because I was once like that. What I thought then was ‘this is long, so this should be the right queue’. I never questioned, did not bother to look up at sign boards – but waited  with my neck bent on the phone.

Recently I did few experiments. To my surprise it opened up many doors.

At airport – I could see many counters with few people, but in a distance. All I need to to do was to walk 100 feet. Probably people do not want to take the trouble of hauling their luggages ( they are quite large, of course) to save 20 minutes. They stay where ever they are, mostly in the longest queue.

At a bank – I asked the person at the next counter (because there was no queue in front of him) whether I can get served. He nodded ! The moment I stepped up to the next counter, many followed me. Ok, the guy behind the counter was having off time, why even bother when people are happy lining up in one queue ?

At a meeting – I counted 55 people in the meeting room. We gathered for 50 minutes. Only 8 people contributed, or simply put, open their mouths to talk. Rest of us, listened. I asked from participants, why so many people wasting time. ? It could have been an email to 55 people. The answer fascinated me. ” people do not care for emails, sms, or even printed letters. They say they did not see it. When in a meeting their names are called , they are present, so they cannot avoid”. Again herd mentality. We think, if the number of people in the room is high, we are more engaged and we get more done. Utter rubbish, it’s a colossal abuse of human resources. But we leave contented.

At Colombo International Book Fair or at Big Bad Wolf– people flock, because everybody is going. It is books, so it should be good. Books equal knowledge and wisdom, right ? No ! If you read the books yes. Also if you read the right books. So going to a book fair, does not make you a wise person.

So what should we do?

Question the queues. (Why? What? When? How? Where? Who ?). Be mindful of what you want. Not what others want.

At airport – Look around for more counters. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. What do you lose anyway?  A question?

At a bank – Look around for more counters. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to use check and money deposit machines. People are still afraid to use them.

At a meeting – Before going to the meeting, clarify from the convener, what are we going to discuss. Check if things can be done by a simple email. Be forthright, but be helpful, do not act as if you want to avoid the responsibilities , but show that you are more inclined to do more in less time.

At Colombo International Book Fair or at Big Bad Wolf – Go at times, when there are less traffic. Use common sense. It saves time and stress. Buy books of course, but read them.



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