I think that there is too much emphasis on us NOT being offended and NOT speaking up when we are offended. And what we see are terrible arguments, domestic disputes, malicious gossiping etc as the result. That is, very poorly delivered objections, that we have been encouraging people to build up and contain and when eventually released, usually ends up being even more offensive than the original offender’s misbehavior.
This is a tweet from Mark Manson #1 NYTimes bestselling author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”. I beg to differ with Mark as I mentioned to Mark, although I do agree that how we choose to be offended should be done wisely:
And then you have this from his followers….
It is no wonder we have so many relationship issues in our society when everyone is being encouraged to basically “shut the F#*K up!”
Object123 goes in the opposite direction, I believe, by encouraging team members to actively and openly object to offensive behavior or misbehavior in real-time. Emphasizing how and when we object being the most important point and that we agree to use a singular platform to do so. Finally, we can now rightly know that we can even take offense to these idioms, and no longer think we have to accept being called a Snowflake.
Our Psychological Safety Framework
Object123 is a self-help tool for resolving disagreements before they become disputes.
Eg: “OK granted”
If one is upset by the other’s misbehavior or anger they can pause the conversation & caution the offender in real-time and he/she would need to either acknowledge or challenge the caution or it can be escalated to an objectionion.
Eg: “Sorry I was out of line”
If the caution is not adequately addressed then the offended person can escalate it to an objection. Now the situation would need a simple apology or a further challenge to respond to the offended person or it can be escalated to a stop.
Eg: “Sorry, I was unfair because…& next time I will …” If the dispute reaches a STOP because the original caution and objection was not addressed appropriately by the offender, an acceptable apology would now be required or the dispute can be taken to a hearing before our peers to assess the matter.
how we deal with misbehavior
WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY
Psychological Safety is the latest buzz word for corporations especially since the 2017 article in the Harvard Business Review on Google and high performing teams. There has been a lot written on the subject with many claiming to be experts and with years of research under their belt. Authors such as Brene Brown, author of Dare to Lead and Timothy R Clarke, author of The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety, have written extensively on the subject and their work sounds valid but there is just so much of what we need to know in order to achieve true psychological safety.
They seem to have focused on all the behaviors that team members should and shouldn’t do and what the team leaders should and shouldn’t do to enable these identified behaviors. Their information and data is exhaustive and exhausting.
However, there is another way to solve this overwhelming problem of dealing with misbehavior. Instead of focusing on how we all should behave (in the future) to achieve Psychological Safety, we simply focus on how we object to others misbehavior, now, and build up a knowledge of how we should behave, one objection at a time.
This is our simple Psychological Safety framework that allows us to moderate each other’s misbehavior (anger), in real-time and direct. Now the janitor can object to the CEO’s misbehavior and know that they have the protection and safety that the framework provides, with everyone being held accountable, regardless who they are.
WHAT IS MISBEHAVIOR?
Whatever causes someone offence can be deemed misbehavior. For example, I find anger offensive. Others may find use of certain words offensive and then of course there is tone, volume, rhetoric, lying, ignoring, being dogmatic, etc etc etc. The point being that we should be able to argue our case during a disagreement without being offensive and be willing to modify our behavior if it is offensive. It is no coincidence that we seem to most likely to lose our cordial behavior and become angry and offensive when we have a disagreement. This is why most of us avoid disagreements.
HOW WE DO IT
Object123 allows us to disagree safely. The special sauce to OBJECT123 is our understanding of the difference between disagreeing and objecting. When we disagree it is with the content in the discussion but when we object it is with the misbehavior in the discussion. The Object123 agreement allows us to Alt-Tab between content and any misbehavior at any time, consciously dealing with misbehavior when we are upset or offended by it. Thereby quickly and efficiently nipping it in the bud, any small misbehavioral incident, during a disagreement, before it becomes a dispute.
Our written history began around 10,000BC with the Agricultural Revolution. After this, came the Industrial Revolution and we are now in the Digital Revolution or Information Age. My prediction is that the next revolution that builds upon the Information Age will be the Agree-cultural Revolution.
What is the Agree-cultural Revolution? I believe it is where we have created a simple culture within our business and personal arenas that encourage and enable “real” agreements to occur.
I see conversations today, generally with people being obsequious, compromising, acquiescing, assenting to authority and avoiding the asking of “dumb” or “difficult” questions. This is understandable as we don’t seem to have an explicit and standard way to resolve inevitable disputes that occur when we have disagreements and the resultant poor behavior they can cause.
Object123 is our proposal for creating such a safe, agreement culture or environment. Where we make one singular agreement that if person A is offended by anything person B has said or done, person A has the right to pause the conversation by objecting and have a parallel conversation about our behavior. This is done by agreeing to use three consecutive phases, if needed, starting with a Cautioning and then an Objecting and finally a Stopping, if necessary.
I believe the actual reason we have conversation, besides practice, is to form and improve our agreements. That our agreements are supposed to be in a constant state of flux where we can return to them at any time and disagree as we gain new information and renew and improve our agreements. And by using the Object123 Agree-cultural framework we facilitate these agreement conversations, making them enjoyable and not the stressful a chore that we are used to when we are having disagreement.
I hope we agree.
It is great how babies and toddlers all seem to object rather than complain. (ie complain in real time to the person responsible for their care rather than gossip later behind their backs).
Imagine if they could learn to say to OBJECT123 to let us know instead of crying or screaming? I think it is possible.
But even better imagine if adults could learn this too?
You might say I’m a dreamer….
It seems to me there are two approaches to creating a Psychological Safety Framework:
- Describe all the behaviors that team members should and shouldn’t do and what the team leaders should and shouldn’t do to enable these identified behaviors.
- Propose a singular framework for objecting to misbehavior that team members and team leaders could agree or disagree to use together.
The former takes a book or two and months of workshop learning.
The latter takes a paragraph, a one hour conversation and a lifetime of engagement.
The word “precaution” suggests that it’s what comes before we need to caution or to even prevent cautioning. In fact, to me precaution does not seem to make sense until we make the statement “to take the precaution”.
Our lives are full of these precautions, so many in fact that I believe we have not thought what they are and where they are. Our whole legal and government system is one giant precautionary tool. A very expensive precaution against anarchy.
I challenge you to to stop and think about the next thing you do and spot all the precautions we have in place to avoid being cautioned or even to prepare us for a cautioning if we break them. Road rules, technology, monetary systems, workplace conditions, climate and environment, energy, education, health, science, sex, design, taxes, finance, legal, marriage, architecture, engineering, etc etc. They all consist of explicit precautionary policies, rules and regulations that allow our society to function and thrive even. They can keep us safe if we take them and can cause us a lot of problems if we don’t take or adopt these and many other precautions.
Of course there is a price to pay for having the precaution in place, just look at what has occurred with COVID-19 and the different precautionary policies each government undertook. The price paid by each government for applying the existing precaution of closing down travel, testing, and contact tracing early verses seeing if we could “ride it out” but possibly paying the price of many deaths later, as Boris Johnson claimed and Donald Trump implemented. I guess as a society and as an individual we have to ask ourselves how much are we willing to pay in time, effort and money for taking the precaution versus the risk of not taking it. The precautions are all there we just have to agree to them and implement them.
The precaution I would like to talk about is the precaution for when we have a disagreement or dispute in our personal and business relationships. What is the precaution we have taken for such a situation? I don’t believe we have yet any standardised precaution for this very common situation. Now, it is not a far stretch to say that most friendships or relationships end due to one or multiple disagreements and disputes and yet what precaution have we taken already? Or better still what precaution did your parents take and pass on to you?
I have taken a precaution that I call OBjECT123 and am willing to share and I would love to hear if you have taken a precaution for when you have personal disputes that you are willing to share?
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..
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:
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.