One of the issues that often arise in poly situations — especially in group living is who decides what gets done.
Sure, sure, a consensus model works. But have you ever gotten more than two people to happily agree on more than 50% of decisions? (The “happily” part is important in the long run. Just going along without being happy means that you’re gonna have some resentment along the line).
When the consensus model won’t work, there’s another option: The Designated Control Freak.
I found out about the whole concept of the DCF from a good friend of mine, and thought it was funny and cute and a nifty way to solve decision issues. I told my husband about it, who also thought it was cute, so we jokingly implemented it.
It was at least six months before we internalized the awesome power of the system.
Here’s the way it works. When the person becomes the Designated Control Freak (DCF) the dialog will be in italics.
Albert: Let’s go out to eat.
Betty: Great! Where shall we go?
Carl: I don’t want to go to a vegetarian restaurant.
Albert: Okay, where are we going then?
Carl: Let’s go to the Outback Steak House.
Betty: No, I hate chain restaurants.
Carl: Okay, Betty, where are we going?
Betty: There’s the new Thai place.
Betty: Okay, I’ll call them and see if they take reservations.
The way the one becomes the DCF is to express a dissenting opinion when trying to come to a decision. If you have a dissenting opinion, you become responsible for the outcome and have to solve the problem. (i.e. what restaurant to go to for an outing). If you have a strong opinion about where to go and speak up, it’s up to you to organize it. Notice that in the course of a few sentances, the DCF changed several times. It wasn’t an argument (and usually when you agree to the DCF system there won’t be).
If you speak up, if you express an opinion, you’re the DCF until someone else speaks up with a different solution.
You’d think it would be a way for people to railroad through their decisions. But it isn’t. Sometimes you recognize that what you really want is not to be the leader, and shut up. Sometimes you want something badly enough to take the reins.
Part of the beauty of this system is that it is impossible to be a Puppeteer and try to be the Hindmost1. If you have an opinion, you’re in charge.
This model reduces fights in a lot of areas. You have a specific way you want the bathroom cleaned? Then you’re the Bathroom DCF. Go for it. It gets cleaned your way. You think the trash has to be emptied before you have to tamp trash down in the kitchen garbage bin, huzzah! You’re the DCF and get to do it.
Does this mean a lazy person could slack in the house and never have to do anything because he never speaks up? In theory, I suppose it could. In practice, I’ve noticed that even the most housework-phobic and disorganized have their own tweaks and twitches for which they will become the DCF and not so lazy as all that.
The thing is, this model really also works well because no-one is willing to work that hard to get his way about everything when he’s responsible for the outcome. You’ll usually find that if someone is trying to bully to get their way on everything, they’re seeing the other person as their “hands” to accomplish what they want. Puppeteering, if you will. This removes the strings nicely.
1For those of you who are not science fiction geeks, in the Ringworld series, there is a culture of creatures who lead from behind — their morality is more-or-less based on cowardice: the ruling class is known as they-who-lead-from-behind, and the supreme leader is called the Hindmost. Their leader is called the Hindmost.