In Xanadu did Kublah Khan a stately pleasure dome decree

Dealing with No

It is a topic of much discussion in the M/s community as to whether /s can ever say no.  I agree with Master Zee, who takes the position that /s is indeed required to say no in some cases, especially when implementing the direction would result in harm to /s.  I also feel that if an M/s pair reaches the point that /s gives a flat "no", they have arrived at the fork of an already-long road of misunderstanding.

Communication is not merely verbal; it is primarily non-verbal. So I watch /s closely to understand what their baseline non-verbal looks like  (or on the phone, their patterns of pauses, speech pace, frequency of discretionary communication).   Woo alert:  I also watch their energy, which I can describe only as a degree of lightness or darkness around them.  If I look at them standing next to a sunny window and perceive them as dark, something is not right in the state of Denmark. As soon as I begin to get the feeling that something could be amiss, I consider first whether I as the Master am certain the direction I gave was clear, and second, I consider whether there has been a deviation from the norm of  /s' non-verbal communication, including his energy.

My working hypothesis is that most instances of "no" can be traced back to one of several sources:
(1) Mindless reflex  
(2) Frustration (which allows earlier social conditioning to momentarily override the dynamic)
(3) Lack of confidence in M/'s ability to make a sound decision.
(4) Fear of mis-speaking

The fourth case is a little different, so focusing on the first three cases, M/ could simply order /s to pause, for example, by snapping a finger, saying "slave!!", pointing to a spot on the floor, and waiting 10-30 seconds while /s stops on that spot, processes the events, and tries to figure out why a pause has been ordered.  After a reflection period, M/ could ask, "Do you know why I have paused you?".  If /s gets it right, I would respond, "Correct, slave. Would you like to try that again?" In response to which, I would expect /s to repeat the substance of the offending statement using appropriate M/s dynamic language.

EXAMPLE 1 - Reflex; frustration that allows prior conditioning to override; lack of confidence in M/'s ability to make a sound decision
Assuming the /s is someone who is accustomed to making executive decisions at work.
/s:  "Miss, I'm making an executive decision to not wear this shirt, because it's not going to stay tucked in and I will look like an idiot if everyone can see that my brown belt doesn't match my black shoes." 
M/: "slave!!"  
(/s stops and goes into the form of Present stance that M/ requires in these cases)
M:/  Do you know why I have paused you?
/s:  Yes, Miss.
M:  Good boy. Try again.
/s:  "Miss, slave's shirt is too short to stay tucked in, which will reveal that slave's belt does not match his shoes. slave's poor presentation might not reflect well on Miss.  Would Miss like slave to wear a different shirt?"

EXAMPLE 2 - Fear of Mis-Speaking
Sometimes "no" translates to "I don't know how to say what I am feeling" or "I don't know how to say it without risking getting into trouble"  or "I know there's something I need to say, but I haven’t thought it through and I don't want to have to say something I know is half baked".

M/:   "Do you have anything you would like to say about that?" or  "Do you know why you did XYZ?"
/s (with non-verbal that signals internal conflict): “No, Miss.”

At this point M/ could say thing like:  
"If you did have something to say, what would it be?"
"If you did know, what would the answer be?"
“If you did know, what universe would we be in?’
Or with a lighter tone, “I don’t happen to believe you, so tell Me, is it bigger than a bread box?”
This cues /s that M/ recognizes the answer may be half baked, but M/ doesn't want to wait until /s perfects it and encourages /s to have confidence that M/ is going to be supportive and reasonable as /s thinks aloud.

If M/ is concerned the /s has a *particular* concern, M/ might be comfortable giving /s time if M/ were comfortable that the particular concern was not involved (“Does it have anything to do with X?”  “No, Miss.” “Alright, give it some thought and brief Me tomorrow over breakfast.”)  This is about as much twenty-questions as I like to get.  My /s has a duty to communicate and be transparent.

On the other side, /s could choose to response with the military inspired fallback: "Permission to speak freely, Miss?"
or speak from the heart (which I always encourage) and name the fear: "Yes, Miss, but this slave is afraid it might not come out right”  or name the consideration that /s feels points toward silence:  “This slave recognizes it is a very sensitive topic for Miss, and would appreciate time to think it through so it can be presented well."

Situations involving what I think of as a non-mutinous "no" often turn on the slave's intense desire to serve beautifully in a higher or broader way than M/ has apprehended. /s wants to give only well thought out answers. /s wants to avoid needlessly burdening or distressing or even merely bothering M/.  Many times, /s has fully anticipated M/'s priorities and implemented them, it just happens to be in a way that M/ cannot see because it is down in the weedy details that were delegated.

There is a nice little plot in Downton Abbey, where the Master is upset that his valet has been disloyal by leaving without explanation.  Master later realizes the valet left because the valet was being blackmailed and his abrupt departure with zero explanation (including suffering Master's predictable wrath) prevented ignomy from raining down on Master's house. Eventually, Master realizes the motivation, and concludes that He, the Master, is rather an idiot, for not understanding and trusting the depth of His servant's devotion. 

Very often, cases which look like insubordination or lack of obedience can stem from /s taking a very expansive view of their duty to M/, and seeing a much broader range of interconnection than M/ might assume.  

I think sometimes a Master's own fears about being unworthy or alone or disappointed are easily projected onto /s in these moments of human struggle to articulate a concern.  I try to give My slave full credit for being the wonderful person he is, for being someone worthy that I actually deserve to have in My life, and relate to him with an expectation of high standards.  Or as the boy himself once pithily said during a period of speaking freely, "You like me because I'm not an idiot, so don't treat me like one."

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