Day 73 of 98 – Can you believe they gave Giggs a yellowcard in the box?

30 Nov

Thought this one was going to be about soccer, didincha? Wrong again!

There’s a lot of talk about policy these days. Fiscal policy, foreign policy, insurance policy, and such and such. But how many of you actually know what a policy is? I know. Embarrassing isn’t it. A word that is used several times in every conversation and screenplay but no one has any idea what it means.

The purpose of this post is to help you understand. Let’s get started.

A policy is a pre-decided course of action that helps reduce the amount of mental energy that is expended when one has to determine what to do in a given situation. The situations can range from the mundane (do I bring an umbrella with me today) to the not mundane (when is it appropriate to talk about politics). A policy can relate to your own comportment (no red wine for me on school nights) or it can involve people whom share some sort of hierarchy (we do not negotiate with terrorists!).

Wow, that was a lot of words. And I’m sorry to report that we’re not done yet. Not even close. There’s so much to discuss.

To start there are two kinds of policy: public and private.

A public policy would be one that has to be known for it to be effective. For example, I have a policy of not ever getting upset if I am not invited to a wedding that is not mine. I’ve done a lot of reflecting on the subject and I’ve come to the following conclusions:

  • Weddings are expensive
  • The organizers expend a lot of energy deciding who to invite

Because of these two facts, I have decided to not get upset if one of my friends or family decides against inviting me to their wedding. I don’t care whose wedding it is. The Pope could be officiating, it won’t make a difference. If you want to invite me to the ceremony but not the dinner, I’m totally cool with that. Or maybe just the dancing after the dinner, it’s all good. Say someone cancelled, the wedding is in two days, and that delicious meal is going to go to waste, doesn’t matter – you can call me at the last minute – I won’t mind.

When establishing a public policy you have to know who the players are and how it relates to them.

This wedding-invite policy affects two groups of people, me and everyone else. And it serves a different purpose for each. For the bride and groom, it helps alleviate by a tiny amount, the stress resulting from planning a wedding. For me it helps ground my reaction in the event I’m not invited to one – it’s ok to be disappointed, it’s not ok to be upset.

It's just a wedding.

For public policies (like the wedding one) to be effective they need to be followed. There will of course be exceptions but your people should have some measure of confidence that you will stick to your guns.

Jason was super pissed that he wasn't invited to his niece's wedding, what's up with that? Well, she's marrying the Norwegian Crown Prince and he's super into Norwegian Royalty.

Now I’m going to talk about private policies. These would be ones that need to be known only to oneself. You can inform others but it’s not necessary. Even though it’s just for you, you should physically tell yourself what you plan to do. Say it out loud or write it down or something. This will increase the likelihood of it being adhered to.

Here is one that I use: “I never kiss on the first date”. The main reason why this policy exists is because on a first date your brain is working really hard. You’re getting a ton of new information that you may be tested on later. You also have to interpret signals to determine if your date is interested or not. The longer the date goes on, the more tired your brain gets, the harder it is to evaluate the data. And the kiss is the physical representation of that evaluation. It’s been my experience that it’s much easier to simply delay all that, go home, and give an audio recording of everything that happened during your date to your roommates. Then later, based on their impartial analysis, you can decide *when you brain is rested* if you want a second date.

Next up, I will explain why it’s important to make known the motivations behind a given policy. This is necessary for two reasons.

First, an explanation helps others to determine if a policy applies to their situation. Something that may be obvious to the author might be lost on the reader. And conversely, a situation may arise that the policy author did not anticipate.

At 144 we have a policy that I implemented not three months ago: there is to be only one type (two sizes) of re-useable plastic container allowed in the kitchen. This may seem a bit extreme but with five people living there you end up with dozens of different types and sizes of containers. The cupboard becomes a disaster. Last year each time I wanted to pack my lunch it took like five minutes to find a lid that fits. No lie.

Point is, that if a roommate wants to buy a container to store her muesli in her cupboard, the policy does not apply in this situation.

Second, an explanation also helps people remember why the policy was originally implemented. This is important in the event the environment changes.

Again, at my house we have a policy (it’s more like a rule but it illustrates the point nicely) to keep the television turned off when it’s not being used. This is because it’s an older model that’s prone to burn-in and it uses a ton of electricity.

Newer televisions use much less power, have a sleep-mode function, and are mostly immune to burn-in. If the old display was replaced with a brand new one, the rule could be eliminated. Note: it’s been my experience that there’s an upper bound (around eight) to the number of rules a given roommate can remember. Yet for some reason my house’s instruction manual is 15 pages long.

Maybe I need a new policy?

Anyway, that about wraps up my thoughts on policy. I will say one final thing: it’s important to revisit your policies now and again to determine if they are still relevant or if they need to be modified. It’s better to do this when you’ve got the time and not when you’re under pressure to make a decision. That’s my policy.

Lt. Frank Drebin: When I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards. That's *my* policy.

2 Responses to “Day 73 of 98 – Can you believe they gave Giggs a yellowcard in the box?”

  1. Uncle Ross November 30, 2011 at 02:32 #

    About that “kiss on the first date” policy…… one can sometimes overthink a very simle situation..

    • Uncle Ross November 30, 2011 at 02:33 #

      (that would be simple not simle)
      There was no speaking in code intended.

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