The Object Proposal

The Object Proposal is my attempt to get a level playing field for personal and business relationships. It allows us to deal directly and in real-time with controversial issues when we don’t want to be walking on “eggshells” to avoid the resultant disagreements, arguments and conflict that can come with them.

Forming the Object Agreement

Firstly it requires discussing the behaviors that we find offensive and setting up agreements with each other that allows us to object in real-time if we feel these agreements have been breached and we have been offended. It consists of proposals on how we be behave when we engage and proposals on how we disengage if these agreements are breached. Here are my proposals:

ALIN – Anger, Lying, Ignoring, Nagging

The basic premise of the Object Proposal is that while engaging, if one person is offended by the other’s behavior, whether that is through Anger, Lying, Ignoring or Nagging, then they can temporarily suspend the topic of conversation, by objecting to that behavior, in real-time. There are 3 stages or levels to the objecting process starting off with a simple caution. An analogy is baseball’s three strikes and we’re out, or soccer’s free kick, yellow card and red card.

COS – Caution, Object, Stop

  1. Caution: Starting with a caution, the offended person can inform the offender of the perceived breach and if the caution is sustained the offender can simply Acknowledge their breach and the conversation can resume. This can continue with any number of cautions and does not necessarily need to escalate to an objection unless the offender refuses to acknowledge their breach.
  2. Object: Failing to acknowledge the caution means the offended could step up at this point to an objection and now the offender would be required to give more than just an acknowledgment, but now a Simple apology.
  3. Stop: And you guessed it, if the objection is not given a Simple apology then the offended can escalate the objection to a Stop and the offender would then be required to give an Acceptable apology,

ASA – Acknowledge, Simple apology, Acceptable apology

This is how we make amends when our behavior is deemed objectionable. The level of our contrite response will also correspond with the level of objection used as with COS.

  1. Acknowledge a Caution
    • Example: “Ok, I retract my jibe”
  2. Simple Apology for an Objection
    • Example: “I am sorry for my insulting remark, I was out of order”
  3. Acceptable apology for a Stop
    (Needs to be accepted by the receiver)
    • What I did, “I am sorry that I used insulting language”
    • Why I did it, “Unfortunately I fell back into my old habits of name calling”
    • What I will do next time. “I will deal with the issue next time, by offering you an agreement proposal to fix my problem rather than use name calling”

For far too long, I believe, we have allowed each other to get away with poor behaviour, especially during disputes and disagreements. This poor behavior will add up over time and eventually can erupt into overblown conflict when “the last straw” is added or “death by a thousand cuts”. The Object Proposal (and agreement) is a great way to bring us into line (if in fact we want to be treated well and we are willing to treat others equally as well) and dissipate any anger that may be building up due to mistreatment during a disagreement. It also encourages us to speak up and be heard, knowing that we are protected by our explicit agreements and by a simple process that allows and encourages us to OBJECT.

The OBjECT Principle

Having an engagement proposal is crazy without a disengagement proposal….

Who can deny that all conversation is an exchange of some sort or another, from the exchange of pleasantries, “Nice day, isn’t it?” to exchanging of proposals, “If I come back to you will you welcome me and marry me”
The exchange in in the sharing or our thoughts and or ultimate proposals.

So how do we make this exchange fair and equal, where we both gain more than we put in? Well, for exchanging pleasantries we generally use reasonably standard social mores to help as there is not much to be lost and gained. But for grand proposals it is a different matter, where we could lose or gain possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even our life and the lives of our future children could be lost. It is in this area where we are going to need more explicit agreements, in my view, on how we go about both engaging and disengaging with our proposals. This is where the Object Principle comes in.

Vietnamese – Tiếng Việt

Our Proposal

My brother Steve and I have been working on our proposals for newer and improved agreements on our behavior for years now and here is an example of a shared proposal that we have agreed to. I am hoping to apply it within an even more personal relationship such as a marriage someday.

We propose that when we have a conversation that we recognise that all conversations seem to embody an exchange of some sort i.e. from exchanging of pleasantries to exchanging grand proposals, and every level of exchange in between.

Hence, during our exchanges we believe it’s useful for us to have an agreed process, protocol or principle – that helps to guide the conversation towards more productive and mutually beneficial outcome.

Often, protocols and standards are implied within peer groups and societies generally, though we believe we can have our own explicit agreements on a process that helps moderate our conversations or exchanges.

So, for example if we don’t agree with the other’s tone, volume, context, rhetoric or simply detect unwanted anger (whoever “wants” anger?) then the agreement allows us to object to prevent us from feeling intimidated by the other person’s use of words or behaviour during our exchange. We can do this by using COS to either de-escalate or disengage.

COS stands for:

  1. Caution
  2. Object
  3. Stop

COS works by accounting for recalcitrant exchanges with 3 strikes and we’re out.
Strike 1. A Caution is applied and an acknowledgment is necessary from the offender eg “ yeah ok, I retract”.
Strike 2. An Objection is raised “I Object” and an apology is necessary.
Eg. “Yeah sorry I was out of line”.
Strike 3. Stop is applied and then an acceptable apology is necessary.
Eg What was done, why it was done and what would be done next time”. And this apology needs to be accepted by the receiver.

The COS 3 strikes should be applied consecutively ie. We cannot use Object or Stop unless we have used Caution first. We agree that we are both responsible for moderating each other’s behavior, during our exchanges, using COS and if we ever reach Stop we both agree to follow up later in an exchange to see how we allowed ourselves to get to this level of objection, as obviously the ideal is to never need to use COS or only get to a the Caution level. Another example is like the free kick in football, then a yellow card and finally a red card, where the offender is sent off.

And finally this proposal and any other from us can always be improved through our future conversations/exchanges and any updates to this or any other process or principle should be appreciated, anticipated and ultimately encouraged.