TOP Agreement

After 35 years of contemplating and investigating relationship disputes I have come up with the simplest of solutions to reduce domestic violence, divorce and heated disputes in business and personal relationships. Yes, as grand as this claim is I am claiming that I have a formula proposal that I intend to prove over the next 5 years.

So, what is the TOP Agreement? Well, TOP stand for The Object Proposal and it simply requires us to form an agreement with whomever we want to have productive disagreements with, before we converse and disagree. Where we agree that our discussions, negotiations or debates are moderated equally by each other and we hold each other to account by objecting to any offenses that occur during these conversations.

The agreement

Firstly we need to agree what an “agreement” is and the proposal for that is as follows:
“An idea that we believe to be true, together, for a prescribed time period and depending on the stipulated conditions, at the time.”
In other words an agreement is only as good as the information used to form it at the time and it can be reviewed and renewed at any time after but needs the consent of both parties to agree to any alteration, of course.

The Object Proposal (TOP)

Simply put, TOP is based on baseball’s 3 strikes and we are out or
soccer referee’s whistle, yellow & red cards.
Three levels of Objection and a higher level of accountability for each.
ie.
1. Caution – Acknowledge
2. Object – Simple Apology
3. Stop – Acceptable Apology

During a conversation it will be both parties responsibility to keep track of when they are offended by the other and, in real-time, inform the other person with a Caution. eg “I caution you”. If the offence is acknowledged by the offender, then fine and we continue with the conversation. If not acknowledged and not explained why, then the alleged offence can be escalated by the offended person to an Objection. eg. “I object”. Where a simple apology would now be required. If the alleged offender complies then fine but if not then the offended person can escalate to a Stop where the offender will now be required to give an acceptable apology or explain why they believe the offence is not sustainable and the conversation is ended until the alleged offence is resolved.

As we learn to apply the TOP agreement we can apply any clauses and caveats that may be needed as we go along from what we learn during the process. For example, what we consider is offensive can be book marked. Or if the offence and objection is not sustained and is instead overruled through debate then the objector will need to back down and acknowledge their error instead. In some, if not a lot of offenses are more misunderstandings rather than intentional offences.

Ok….now……let the conversations begin.

We nominate and inform each other what we are offended by and build our relationship around what agreements are reached in this area. Maybe that is what a relationship is for.

Agree How to Agree

How ironic is this. The fact that we make hundreds of agreement with each other and yet we do not have an agreement on what an “agreement” is or means to us. You will be surprised to find out just how much you may differ on what an agreement means to you and the people you are making them with.

Here is how I define an agreement and how remis it has been of me not to ensure that I have not thought of implementing this before, with my brother and business partner of 15 years.

AGREEMENT = “An idea that we believe to be true, together, for a prescribed time and depending on the stipulated conditions, at the time.”

My proposal

Think back to how many times you have thought you had an agreement and expected it to be carried out only to be let down by the timeline or various conditions that had changed?

This fundamental definition will change your life, in my view, especially if you agree with it and get the person that you are agreeing with to agree to it also.

Try it and let me know or let me know if you disagree.

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.