Upset the Applecart….not ourselves!

Upset the Applecart….not ourselves

The idiom “Don’t upset the applecart”, applies, in this case to the the ‘system’ of conversation.
What ‘system’, you may ask. The playwright Bertolt Brecht said “When something seems ‘the most obvious thing in the world’ it means that any attempt to understand the world has been given up.” I think that we have given up any attempt to understand the system of conversation and I also believe it is time we upset this applecart.

It seems to me that most participants of conversation comply with the idiom “Don’t upset the applecart” and have never questioned why we converse or how we should go about doing it better. Generally conversation – the applecart, is geared to discourage overt disagreement by having no standard and explicit rules for moderating poor behavior, other than trying to be civil and courteous. It’s still like the wild west when we disagree.

Evidence of this is that we tend to have lots of separate, follow up conversations, with third parties, about each other’s poor behavior during conversation i.e. gossip. This being an attempt to resolve, in our own minds, any disagreements and upsetting behavior due to the lack of protections during disputes.

Object123, is a Psychological Safety framework that can help us upset the applecart of conversation. It encourages disagreement during conversation by helping us moderate each other’s poor behavior, in real-time, offering us protectection from being abused..

For example:
Object123 “If one person is upset with anything that is said or done by the other, we agree that he or she has the right to interrupt the conversation and object, in real-time, to the perceived upsetting behavior”.

This is done by using three consecutive objection phases:

  1. Caution – Official Cautioning – eg. “I would like to caution you”.
    Cautioning the perceived offender, directly and in real-time, to get an acknowledgment of the offense or an explanation, otherwise it can be escalated to:
  2. Object – Official Objection – eg. “I would like to object now”.
    Objecting to the offender, in private, that an acknowledgment or an adequate explanation was not given for the perceived offense. Now, if a simple apology is not forthcoming then it can be escalated to:
  3. Stop – Official Stopping – eg. “I would like us to stop now”.
    Stop because the offended person did not receive a simple apology or an adequate explanation and now an acceptable apology would be required. The conversation would be stopped until this issue was resolved.

At any time the accused offender can dispute their offense by giving an appropriate explanation but if their appeal is not sustained then they risk the caution being escalated to an objection and ultimately the stopping of the conversation until the issue is resolved.

Ultimately, this is done by taking the issue to a weekly hearing before our peers, where it can be reviewed and adjudicated on.

Relationship Caution Protocols

Relationship Caution Protocols

One of the most financially successful sports globally, without argument, is soccer with the top three teams in the world being valued at more than $12 billion. The game is controlled by standard rules and a referee using a whistle along with yellow and red card caution protocols. When an infringement occurs the referee will blow the whistle and award a free kick or use a card against the player responsible. The following are the standard caution protocols for the use of such cards:

“Should a player receive 2 yellow cards in a game, they will be shown a red card and will be suspended for 1 match. If a player receives a straight red card, he is immediately dismissed from the field, cannot be replaced and will miss a few games. If a player believes they have been wrongly cautioned he can appeal this decision.”

Imagine trying to run a professional sport, worth billions of dollars but without standard rules of play or caution protocols in place. I say, it would be near impossible and more to the point, it is actually these agreed-to rules and caution protocols that have enabled the game to grow and flourish as it has over the last 150 years.

At the same time business and personal relationships are dissolving due to the lack of standard rules of engagement and caution protocols, in my opinion. The costs of divorces globally, in our society is also in the billions of dollars annually, not to mention the emotional and psychological costs.

It seems crazy to me that, for just a sport, so much effort is invested in standards that keep participants accountable and yet when it comes to business and personal relationships there seems to be no standard rules or caution protocols.

But lets imagine for a moment we created a simple standard engagement rule for relationships and caution protocols to govern them. For example, a standard rule being when one is offended by the other’s behavior they can use our standard protocols to govern this offending behavior. If the offender disputes a caution protocol they can make an appeal to the offended person and eventually appeal to an outsider as a last resort. I believe that I have created a simple set of caution protocols that if agreed to, could be used and could change the face of personal and business relationships.

Based along the same vein as soccer’s caution protocols, with two people relating and when one has taking offence to the other’s behavior, these caution protocols can be used to resolve such offence: *Note: These are applied by the offended person in real-time and direct to the offender.

  1. CAUTION (Like blowing the whistle) – then the offender would need to acknowledge or it can be escalated to an…
  2. OBJECTION (Like the yellow card) – now a simple apology would be required from the offender or it could be escalated to a..
  3. STOP (Like the red card) – now the offender would need to offer an acceptable apology and is dismissed until doing so.
    *After a Stop is activated the alleged offender can appeal the decision or use an outsider if they really felt unfairly treated.

Getting upfront agreements to the caution protocols allows both parties to know how serious a dispute can get and that accountability and responsibility are paramount, always.