Taking offense, whether it is at work or at home, is not an uncommon experience. So you would think that we would have a commonly agreed-upon solution to approach this problem, when it occurs.
But ask any two random people, in an office or at home, how they should behave when they have been offended or when they have offended another and you will find a different answer every time. Well that is my bet. No structure seems to exist. It’s either “suck it up buttercup” or be equally or more offensive in return.
I am amazed by this lack of preparation. Even in the most advanced organizations and behavioral thinking, this gap in how we should behave when we misbehave, seems to exist.
Here is where Object123 comes in. A simple, memorable tool to use, in real-time when we have taken offense.
“Stop-the-Line manufacturing is a technique introduced by Taiichi Ohno (of Toyota Production System fame) in which every employee on the assembly line has a responsibility to push a big red button that stops everything whenever they notice a defect on the assembly line.”
Initially, people did not understand the idea as the dogma at the time was to keep the line moving at all costs. Taiichi’s idea was by stopping the line and fixing inefficiencies you were proactively building a better process.
Some managers took up his idea and some did not. The managers that took up the idea their productivity dropped by a shocking amount. They were spending so much time actually fixing defects on the line rather than just using Stop-gaps to keep the line moving. The managers that did not take up his idea thought they were vindicated for taking their stance.
Before long though, something strange started to happen. The managers that took up Taiichi’s ideas and fixed the defects on the line as they went, started producing their goods faster, cheaper, and more reliably than stubborn conservative Stop-gap managers. To the point where they caught up and out performed them. This went on to make Toyota one of the leading car manufacturers in the world.
Now, imagine if we did that for all our conversations? Where we all could push an imaginary BIG RED button during our conversations when ever we felt offended by someone’s behavior. Where we could adjust and fix each other’s offensive behavior, in real-time rather than using the Stop-gap method we all use during conversation today, that results in inefficiencies and defects in communication?
I am suggesting that Object123.com is that BIG RED BUTTON for Stop-the-Line Conversation. Where we could stamp out Stop-gap misbehavior such as the following by Cautioning, Objecting & ultimately Stopping, in real-time when needed:
I prefer all leaders and followers, for that matter, to qualify their thoughts as opinions rather than dress them up as facts. For example, I used “I prefer” but I could have said what “I think” or “in my opinion”, etc etc.
This would open us all up to be more easily challenged, I believe, as unfortunately there are far too many charlatans out their trying to seduce people to endorse their dogma, ie the blind leading the blind.
I don’t think anyone should take the risk of being either. That is, the blind leader or blind follower, and that, to me is integrity.
I will try explain the simple but radical principle of Object123.
Instead of drawing up hundreds of dot points on what to do, what not to do and basically how to behave in your organisation, you simply start with Object123 and that is it. Basically it becomes your very own AI for describing how to behave one objection at a time.
For example, when someone is simply offended by a team member’s behavior they can challenge the offence and if the offender cannot adequately justify their behavior in the offended person’s eyes, then the offended person can escalate the objection to the next level and if necessary, eventually have the perceived offence tried in the court of public opinion using their peers.
In effect, we have an ongoing process of drawing up the principles of the organisation that the team defines. This is wonderfully simple and as each new offence is documented and ratified we build up a landscape of how we should behave towards each other.
At the same time, poor behavior can be nipped at the bud before it becomes a disruptive, ongoing dispute between team members where other members get drawn in through gossip rumor and innuendo.
Well this is the principle but ultimately it needs to be fully tested.
Prevent Vs Object IN REAL-TIME We can’t PREVENT misbehavior; it is a given. It WILL happen, on occasion between people, especially when we disagree. When our ideas are threatened, we can become defensive and offensive, resulting in angry, and uncivil behavior. We can, however, OBJECT to this misbehavior in real-time, as it occurs rather than complaining about the person later. For this reason, we have designed Object123. A simple toolkit to tackle misbehavior, in real-time, thus nipping any potential for long-term disputes in the bud.
Disagreeing VS how we disagree Firstly, we understand the difference between disagreeing versus HOW we disagree during a disagreement.
We DISAGREE with the idea or content as per usual
But we OBJECT, in real-time to HOW someone disagrees (misbehaves).
In effect, we are having two conversations simultaneously. If you take offense to how the other is behaving during the conversation or in a meeting, you can switch (alt-tab) to Object123, and use 1.CAUTION to slow, 2.OBJECT to prepare, or ultimately 3.STOP to get the dispute reviewed by your peers in the organization.
What object123 looks like
To CAUTION! the offender you simply say “I would like to caution you” and on what grounds. You should receive an acceptable acknowledgment of the offender’s misbehavior or a satisfactory explanation that justifies their behavior. If you are not satisfied, you can escalate to an objection by informing the offender that they will receive a written objection by email shortly.
To OBJECT! to the offender’s misbehavior you would go to the Object Page after verbally cautioning the offender and expect to receive a written reply of either an acceptable simple apology or a satisfactory explanation for their misbehavior. If you are still not satisfied, the you can escalate to a stop where you can post your dispute on the Disputz Review Network.
To STOP! the offender you simply send your last reply to the offender informing them of your dissatisfaction and that you are posting the dispute on the Disputz Review Network site, where both your versions of the dispute will be on display to be reviewed by your work colleagues within the organization. From the feedback you both receive either one of you will owe the other a 3 step acceptable apology of:
1. What was said/done,
2. Why it was said and
3. What the offender will do next time.
CIVILITY LIVE CONFERENCING & ADJUDICATION
FINAL LIVE VIDEO CONFERENCE Both the accuser and the accused would have a video conferencing meeting with up to 8 peers within the organisation to participate and adjudicate. Failure to resolve the dispute at this stage would require the one deemed the offender, by your peers to resign. This is done by tallying up the votes using the democratic process to ultimately resolve the dispute.
Of course, all participants would need to agree to use the Civility123 toolkit beforehand, and it would apply to every member of the organization, from the Janitor to the CEO.
Here is the tip of the century (my view) or what I have called a Social Just Culture
When we are having a disagreement don’t allow ourselves to get confused or sucked into a personal dispute. Only DISAGREE with WHAT (content) someone says. NEVER disagree with HOW they say it (delivery). Learn to OBJECT to HOW they deliver the content. This will give us a duel or tandem conversation running in parallel and in real-time. Then get your “opponent” to agree and begin your discussion/debate/negotiation, switching between when we DISAGREE (content) and when we OBJECT (delivery/behavior). The objection can be for anything that you may find offensive or objectionable like: Tone, Volume, swearing, rhetorical questions, absolute language (dogma) etc etc.
Next step is to temper when & how we OBJECT, splitting it into 3 phases or levels of objection and response.
Caution the offender – Respond with an acknowledgment, or escalate…
Object to the offender – Respond with a simple apology or escalate…
Stop the offender – Respond with an acceptable apology or escalate…
Finally if our objection is still unresolved we can take the offender to the Friday afternoon meeting of our peers to have them adjudicate our dispute.
What You May Find You will be amazed what you experience. My bet is that you will find their content usually quite weak in substance but their delivery filled with absolute language, volume, tone, expectations, rhetorical questions and other coercive tools used to get you to acquiescence rather than agree.
Now, some may say that this only complicates conversation and life, splitting a conversation in two and in real-time. My answer is granted but what complicates life even more, in my view, is not addressing coercive delivery of content and making decisions based on emotive, browbeating behavior of others. Also the repercussions of such poor behavior during a discussion can become a full on dispute resulting in backbiting, strained relations and office or family politics after such encounters, with other members being forced to take sides.
Psychological Safety: The Psychological Safety movement has been getting some legs over the last 5 years since a few articles came out as a result of Google’s research into what makes a successful team at Google. “Psychological safety is being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career. It can be defined as a shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking. In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected. It is also the most studied enabling condition in group dynamics and team learning research”
Just Culture: Recently, after learning about Psychological Safety I also discovered another movement in the workplace called Just Culture. “Just Culture is a concept related to systems thinking which emphasizes that mistakes are generally a product of faulty organizational cultures, rather than solely brought about by the person or persons directly involved. In a just culture, after an incident, the question asked is, “What went wrong?” rather than “Who caused the problem?”
Social Just Culture: But it seems to me that there needs to be a cross pollination of both cultures to create a Social Just Culture. Where as a Just Culture encourages teams to own up to mistakes by not blaming or punishing them, “A Social Just Culture encourages teams to expose, confront and acknowledge offensive or misbehavior, in real-time, rather than suppress it and later end up backbiting the offender.”
A Social Just Culture allows us to face our disagreements and know that we have a just process in place to address situations when either one of us becomes emotional during our disagreement. It is way way for us to clean up any mess that can and WILL occur when we disagree. Object123 is our proposal for a Social Just Cultural tool in the workplace.
There is a lot of talk about meritocracy now a days. Ray Dalio has famously built his Principles around this idea, I believe. But just as importantly I believe we need to include a demeritocracy. That is we get merits when we step up and succeed but we also get demerits when we step up and fail.
It does not have to be the electric chair for us when we fail but, I believe that we need to recognise clearly the difference between failure and success and take responsibility for either. A simple accolade for our successes or a frozen chicken for example and an acknowledgement and a simple apology for any failures. (We used to do that at our soccer club. What started out as a dinner for two award, ended up as a simple frozen chicken being presented to the best player).
Of course these successes get added up in our psyche as merits and the failures also get added up as demerits. Unfortunately our society seems to be going the way of gold stamps for all our successes and failures which I do not agree with.
I recently posted a comment on Ray’s Linkedin post stating this:
“There is certainly some merit in what you say Ray, in my view. I guess like any idea it can be taken too far, though. Example, “I am the expert here and what would this novice know about our business”. So I guess factoring in this possibility is also important. My brother and I have developed a simple system of stepping up. Whoever is brave enough to step up and succeeds gets the merit points, (accolades) but if he fails gets some demerit points (apologies). Imagine if the tea lady was brave enough to step up to the plate (as in you analogy) on how we should run our business and we were brave enough to let her do a trial, who knows what could happen. But I agree merits and also demerits are the way to go.”
Why are so many so-called intelligent people so easily sucked into conspiracy theories? I am not exactly sure but I dare say that our biases have a lot to do with it. That is, we are more likely to believe what we want to believe or as the saying goes “having itchy ears”…ha! just waiting to be scratched.
Unlike our legal system we have today, where the accused is innocent until proven guilty let’s make the information that we receive guilty until proven innocent. That is we check the sources. Where they came from, how many we can find and what possible conflict of interest they may have.
Coming from a Sherlock I would say this is elementary my dear, elementary!