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.

Conversation Vs Negotiation

I guess you or I have never thought to ask what is the difference between a negotiation and a conversation, well I haven’t to date, but just started thinking about it recently.

A conversation is more personal, for example: if someone said “I want you to marry me” or “would you marry me”, during a conversation your reply might “gee thanks and yes I will”. But with a negotiation your response could be less personal. Eg:
“So you want to marry me or me to marry you? Hmmmm….. Well, what I would like from you is to be more transparent and explain yourself more clearly. Can you put together a more formal proposal to me explaining in detail what you want from me and why and where etc and I will get back to you on your proposal”.
Considering this is probably the most important proposal or conversation we could ever have, putting it into a more formal context makes so much more sense than how it has been treated in the past. Especially considering the financial and legal implications of such a request/proposal.

Oh! I like the negotiation sooooo much more as it gives the receiver of such a question or request so much more power in how they reply. Imagine if every woman that was ever asked to marry replied with this negotiation skill, perhaps there would be less divorces.

Maybe it is time for more women to prepare this type of proposal for men and see how the men would respond ie negotiate or simply reply in a conversation. I am preparing myself for such a proposal and know/hope it will be much more a negotiation rather than a conversation. 🙂

My First Proposal

If I wanted to have a business relationship with you I would make you a business proposal. A proposal is not so much a question but the beginnings of a negotiation process where we state what we want and what we are willing to give in exchange.
It is, as they say a quid pro quo.

If I wanted to have a personal relationship with you then I would think the same should apply, where we make a series of proposals as part of our negotiation, with the ultimate goal of making a marriage proposal. Once again, I suggest that it is a quid pro quo.

But, somehow, I don’t think that is how it is working out in personal relationships today or ever. Sure, couples court each other, implicitly talking about what they are looking for and not looking for from each other but when the marriage proposal is made what have they exactly agreed to? Who really knows?

My suggestion is that we start to be more explicit in our negotiations and proposals during personal relationships. And, I suggest that our first proposal should be this, “let’s start negotiating and what would you like to propose?”

This may explain why there are so many broken relationships and marriages.
There seems to be so much focus on the “marriage proposal” where he pops the question and she foolishly accepts without detailing what exactly what is he proposing. What is it that he is offering and what does he want in exchange? What are the exact details for the proposal and can we put them down in writing and sign for them, turning our vague marriage certificate into a more formal and detailed contract.

If we are going to sign something when we marry then why not know exactly what we are signing for, I say. So I guess this post is my first proposal in our marriage proposal.

Rules of Disengagement

We all have heard of Rules of Engagement, used for when soldiers are in combat.
Nato have an ROE Manual and another is called the San Remo Rules of Engagement. The Geneva Convention are another set of rules but used for disengagement and used to protect people who are not part of or no longer taking part in hostilities.

Imagine if we developed a set of rules that we could agree to use in our personal and business relationships to protect us from each other when we want to no longer take part in a disagreement, dispute or argument. A set of agreed-to rules to allow us to disengage. I believe that is what is missing in our lives and contributes to enormous problems in our business and personal relationships.

I have come up with 3 simple rules of disengagement that could work if we were willing to agree to use them and give them a try.

  1. Caution – “I would like to caution you now…” This is a warning to be careful that we can activate to let the other know that we have an issue with what was just said or how it was said and a de-escalation or slowing down is necessary or we face heading towards the second step.
  2. Objection – “I object….” Where we object to what was said or how it was said and require the other to retract the offending behavior with a simple apology.
  3. Stop – “I would like to stop now…” Where we call an ending to the proceedings until an acceptable apology is given. If we get to this point it is quite likely that the person is showing the beginnings of contempt for these rules of disengagement.

These proposed rules of disengagement (ROD) need to be tested to see how useful they are and to see what issues and problems evolve out of using them. But worth a try.

Help Clarify Our Confusion

The BIG clarification question is “why are we here” or “what is the meaning of life”, but in reality we may have just begun to answer this question by asking it. If my theory is correct, quite possibly the meaning of life is to simply clarify it by reducing our confusion. And in asking such a question we may be on the road to already clarifying our understanding.

Before, I had asked and answered another BIG question of what conversation was for, by saying “to be making sure”. But now I would say “to make clear” or reduce confusion.

Just imagine if we formed a relationship explicitly around the agreement that we would help each other clarify our life and reduce confusion. In this simple agreement we are then agreeing to reduce deception and lies, to reduce anger and ignorance and anything else that contributes to confusion or a lack of clarification.

Would you agree with that?

I hope my efforts, here, have made life a little bit clearer. I feel my confusion has reduced somewhat….ha!

Flock You!

One principle with 3 simple rules to keep the flock together but never clash.

Imagine if we humans could devise a simple principle with 3 simple rules to allow us to work at our optimum together and yet not clash, crash or have overheated interactions together, even if we vehemently disagree. When you watch this video you will see how these starlings do it in flight.
Their 3 rules, as proposed by the researchers, are how one starling interacts with her 7 closest neighbours:

  1. As one flies steer towards each other of the 7
  2. If one of the 7 birds turn then the one turns
  3. Finally don’t crowd each other.

Now let’s see if we can apply a similar principle to people, to allow us to explore any topic and stay calm even if we disagree. My three-rule proposal is based on firstly splitting our conversation into two components, the Object and the Subject. The Object is the topic that we are talking about and the Subject is about us and how we deliver the Object. At any point we can step outside the Object and make the Subject the Object if we in fact have an objection to how the Subject delivered the Object or topic. This mental gymnastics has its benefits as we will see later. The three rules are for how we make such objections.
The first objections is just a caution and can be delivered as simply as “I call caution” and state the grounds.
The second is an official objection ” I object” with stated grounds.
And the third is “Stop” or three strikes and we’re out.

  1. Caution
  2. Objection
  3. Stop

At each step we agree to how the receiver to the objections should respond.
A simple acknowledgment and retraction for the Caution.
A more formal apology for an Objection
And an acceptable apology if the conversation had to stop due to the contempt for rules 1 and 2.

If the conversation cannot be restored due to the Stop call then a third party and eventually our peers can be involved to assist. It is quite possible that, like the 3 rules used by flocking of birds, we may only need to get such agreements with just 7 people in the organisation and the system could work.

Worth a try to see.