Snowflake!

All the reasons you need to keep your big trap shut!

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.

Psychological Safety Singular Framework

It seems to me there are two approaches to creating a Psychological Safety Framework:

  1. 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.

Or

  1. 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 PRECAUTION!

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 Third Phase of Objection

What causes conflict?
I believe what happens is that most people allow the first, second and even the third offense to take place and only then react or object but by then the reaction can and usually is so disproportionate to the offence. We have all been there and suffered this type of wrath, for example our partner leaving the lid off the toothpaste, and reacting with “I’m sick or this!” or “I’ve had enough! The funny thing is we all know that this reaction is wrong but we seem to be stuck in this cycle of rewarding poor behavior for even poorer behavior. I guess that is why most people try avoid confrontation but this this just maintains and possibly escalates the cycle.

So my simple solution is to agree beforehand to use a mild objection for behavior that offends us, such as a:
1.Caution in real-time, as a proportionate response to whatever is offensive, “I would like to caution you”. Then to receive a simple acknowledgement in response to the caution. But if our caution was not successful in receiving that acknowledgment then we can raise the stakes to the next Objecting phase and use an official:
2. Objection to receive a simple apology, “I would like to Object”. And finally, if still unsuccessful and we don’t receive a simple apology then we can raise to the next Objecting phase to a:
3. Stop, in which case a more complex and responsible acceptable apology would be required from the offender, “I would like to stop now”. And part of the apology given by the offender would be in reference to how and why we go to the third phase of the objection. The apology would be along the lines of :

  • What I did
  • Why I did it and
  • What I will do next time

As I mentioned this will only work if the process is agreed to before hand, applies to all parties and any false objections would also need to be acknowledged and apologised for if the objection was eventually overruled.

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. 🙂

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.

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.

A Worrying Trend

The Conversation

What if the sole purpose of conversation was to reduce or assuage our worries? Well that is what I believe is the actual purpose of conversation.

Maybe all mental sickness occurs because we don’t get all that help to ease our worries that we need. Why? Because we haven’t made that agreement explicitly to help each other to ease all our worrying.

But imagine if we explicitly agreed to this principle to use conversation to help ease all our worries, together, then their would be no limit to what we could talk about and when, where, how and why. The only limit would be with WHO we have not made the agreement with.

Having a conversation with whomever we have not gotten such an explicit agreement with could, instead of easing our worries, potentially give us even more. Without such an agreement we are open to the pregnant or ignoring pause we can receive when we try broach difficult subjects that are causing us worries or to be told that we “think too much” or “talk too much” or “you are over thinking it” or “get over it” etc etc. In other words “I am not your camel” to carry your worries, which is what a previous friend would say to me.

There even seems to be a self perpetuating system already in place to prevent us making any such an agreement to help each other ease our worries. Simply by broaching this subject of conversation and asking for the reason or purpose for conversation can cause such consternation, as I have found over the last 30 years. Rarely, if ever have I met someone that has had this conversation before ie the reason for conversation. Strange but true. The one thing that we do more than anything else in our life, converse, and yet no one I have met has been asked this question directly. The playwright Bertolt Brecht said that as soon as something seems the most obvious thing in the world, it means that we have abandoned all attempts to understand it. And this from Wikipedia:
” No generally accepted definition of conversation exists, beyond the fact that a conversation involves at least two people talking together “

Maybe everyone has given up all attempts to understand the actual purpose of conversation and the trend seems to be to resign ourselves to carrying certain burdens that worrying causes us, forever.