Within an M/s or even D/s dynamic, one of the challenges encountered almost immediately is handling situations in which the /s feels he cannot give the unconditional "Yes!" he knows is the right answer. I find it unproductive (indeed counter productive) as well as flat out tedious to handle these situations as if they called for a punishment response. I don't enjoy punishment qua punishment and I believe it really should not be needed if the dynamic is working. Feedback, yes.
My working hypothesis is that /s is usually willing to obey and really trying to do his best, but simply does not have the right language tools to handle the situation within the dynamic. And he's too overwhelmed by the inner conflict to figure out how to ask for help. So he ends up breaking the dynamic and saying things that cause Me to feel undermined.
I have created the list below as a form of Idea Velcro to capture language suggestions that the /s will find useful in his vocabulary, in order to express hesitation, reservation, and concerns in a way that do not undermine the authority of She whom he serves. I welcome suggested additions.
For the /s
-- Simple, unconditional willingness to obey
-- As I become more aware of how important it is to Me that /s obey cheerfully and graciously, I increasingly like to hear things more in the vein of:
“With pleasure, Miss!”
“It would be an honor, Miss!”
"Without delay, Miss!"
--Mild concern/reservation about obeying:
Yes, if it please you, Miss.
--Strong concerns (equivalent to something between a yellow and a red) about obeying, i.e., some degree of fear about harm that could result from obedience
"Not unless it please you, Miss."
--Violent opposition (red/hard limit)
This is where a loud NO is most likely to ring out into the room, followed by a rending of the curtain in the tabernacle, followed by dark skies and an earthquake. Fortunately, a Real No Situation hasn't actually happened yet, but imagining if it did, I would expect a look of panic on his face first, possibly followed by blinking away tears or a look of anger. In response, I would want him to do something very close to this: further embody that panic by falling to his knees, putting his forehead to the floor, and extending his arms. It would immediately convey to Me that he feels gravely vulnerable and at My mercy. It also has the beauty of not requiring words when they would be terribly difficult to find. I would know with absolute clarity that something is profoundly amiss which needs My full and protracted attention before I take a single step further down the road I had chosen. What I would *not* want is surly, sullen, stoney, reluctant obedience followed by balking mid-step fifteen minutes later when the event has become unavoidable. My goal as Master is, of course, to never allow us to get even close to this point in the first place.
-- I think the most common situation in which /s undermines the dynamic and M's authority is when /s feels he possesses important information of which M/ is unaware or which M/ has not adequately considered. It is very important in these cases that the /s affirm his willingness to obey, so that expressing the concern does not appear to be a failure of obedience.
RECIPE: Miss, this slave would be happy to __(repeat back the instruction accurately). It is possible this could cause __(state concern)__ to happen. Is Miss OK with that happening?
EXAMPLE: Miss, this slave would be happy to move the bag of rat poison into the shed now. It seems possible that Miss' dog could get into the shed and eat some of it. This slave just wants to be sure whether that is a risk Miss is willing to take?
EXAMPLE: Miss, this slave would be happy to dress as directed. The shirt Miss has chosen is too short to stay tucked in, which would reveal that slave's belt is brown but his shoes are black. This might cause slave's appearance to reflect poorly on Miss. Is this a concern for Miss?
EXAMPLE: Miss, nothing would make this slave happier than to chauffeur Miss to tonight's appointment. Unfortunately, this slave's glasses broke earlier today and slave is afraid that driving without them could result in harm to both Miss and Her property. How does Miss feel about that risk?
For the M/
On the flip side, Master may sometimes sense there could be a problem with the directions She is considering. Particularly when slave possesses more expertise on the topic than I do, I might not be in a position to accurately foresee problems or give direction for how to handle them. In these cases, I could choose to invite dialogue without relinquishing authority.
M/: This (describe) is what I would like you to do. Do you foresee any problem with this approach?
M:/ Since we are having an elaborate dinner party tonight, I'm thinking it does not make sense to do the full, roasted chicken dinner that I had scheduled for tonight. It would be easier to just make sandwiches. Do you foresee any problem with this change?
/s: Miss, when you requested roasted chicken for dinner, I adjusted the party planning so that tonight's dinner functions as a form of prep for tomorrow's party.
M/: Interesting. Tell me more.
/s: For example, the risotto for tomorrow's party uses homemade chicken stock, which I planned to make after dinner tonight, using the bones from the roasted chicken. It is possible to get up early in the morning to roast the chicken, but that shifts several hours of labor into tomorrow and complicates timing of what is in the oven. Thank you for caring about my fatigue level, but it would be better managed by staying with the current dinner plan.
M:/ Very good. Thank you, slave, I see you have thought this through very carefully and correctly anticipated what My wishes would be, if I were more involved in the details. Well done, My dear. Please carry on with the original plan for tonight then. (smile and a light kiss)
/s: Thank you, Miss. (big grin and feeling of gratification that Miss is well pleased)
This approach creates a fantastic opportunity both for M/ to really get a good reminder of how truly competent /s is, and an opportunity for /s to feel very much seen and appreciated.
“What the hell?”
After a rather laughable breakdown of communication -- in which I bought a pair of nipple clamps that /s knew he would not be able to tolerate and I thought he was merely playacting at being terrified for the entertainment of the saleslady, possibly compounded by the fact that I have trouble picking out voices in a noisy space and he has a soft raspy voice just now -- I have recently directed /s as follows:
“I am a reasonable person who has your best interests at heart and respects your limits. If you ever find yourself thinking ‘What the hell is She thinking?!' I want you to take that as evidence that there is a mis-communication between us, and you have spotted it first. You have a standing direction that when you find yourself thinking 'What the hell is She thinking?!' you are required to initiate a conversation with Me, to validate that I have both received and accurately understood all your input. I know it isn’t easy for you, but I need you to trust that I am reasonable.”
We’ll see how this direction works out. I’ll also get my hearing checked. Just. In. Case.