Care & Feeding: Six Sigma
Years ago I was considering getting a project management certification cause the jobs were plentiful, but was worried because no one I knew had ever spoken positively about their PM. Even project managers weren’t very articulate on the value of project managers. Around that time, I heard a friend – then a Project Manager at Google – talk about ineffective project management. I did not become a PM because I ultimately realized it wasn’t something I wanted to do, just something I could do, but one of the things I learned about project management related immediately to topping for me and still seems relevant. (BTW, most of what I know about topping I learned from management literature…)
A big part of what makes project managers ineffective is that they simply aren’t empowered to do their jobs. They are responsible for keeping the project on schedule and within budget but often don’t have a hand in planning either the schedule or budget. They have to interact with engineers to get everything done, but because of the bad rap project management gets they often don’t have good report with engineers. They manage technical projects but they aren’t technical people…anyway, you see the problem – this is the person who takes Sally’s budget and Bob’s schedule and tries to get Gretchen to to adhere to both with little understanding of Gretchen’s actual process.
Good project management happens when the PM isn’t just a cog in the machine. When the PM can negotiate with Bob and Sally, and has enough technical know-how to anticipate Gretchen’s needs while shielding her from pointless client hand-holding and chatter the PM is worth their weight in gold.
So how does this relate to kink? Well obviously I’m gonna say that good topping happens when the top is empowered to do her job. Duh.
Here’s the thing, you can top by the “I am the goddess queen of the universe and you should kneel and kiss my feet you pathetic worm” method. I call this the fly paper method of domming because you’re being a bitch and most people won’t stand for it, but you sort of do it to enough people, throw enough things at the wall, that someone will stick.
Or you can reconcile the fact that you kink really hard on telling other people what to do be it “wear only green socks” or “don’t touch your cock without my permission” with the fact that these people have opinions of their own. Sometimes your job will get in the way, or theirs will. Sometimes you’ll have the flu and forget that he hasn’t come in a while cause you can’t breath so you’re distracted, you know, real life, it’s messy.
The thing about topping real people is that *they’re* messy. Like I said, they have opinions. They may cheerfully consent to being told what to do by you 98% of the time, and then 2% they’ll be in a bad mood or something. You will ask them to do a thing, and they will not do it despite the fact that they want to play with you and be submissive most of the time, and you will feel like maybe you overstepped and then you won’t ask them to do a thing again…because you are not empowered to do your job.
Or maybe they will ask you to enforce a budget and timeline you had no hand in planning while trying to make decisions about a process you don’t understand.
As it happens, giving my submissive partner directions is actually a really vulnerable thing for me to do – he could not do the thing I want, and then I’m not sure if the way I thought we were relating to each other is the way we are actually gonna relate to each other moving forward. This is very different from “how dare you say no!” this is “when you say no, or worse say yes act no, I’m hesitant to ask at this level again because I feel vulnerable.” He’s an adult, he can do whatever he wants, but actions have consequences and one possible consequence is “I no longer feel comfortable expressing dominance.”
So, how do you empower your top to do her job without saying yes all the time? I have no idea, but here is how you empower me to top:
- When I offer directions you either a) do the thing and thank me for asking for the thing or b) don’t do the thing and tell me in detail why – I ask for things tentatively at first and my asks get bigger over time, but if this breaks down I reset to a lower level. Thanking me for asking answers my internal worry of “I hope he likes this as much as I do, I wonder if I’m overstepping with this ask.” Telling me in detail why you won’t do something bridges the gap between sometimes real life gets in the way, “I’m too sick for another sleepless night and I don’t sleep well in the CB6000,” and you just don’t give a fuck.
- Tell me your fantasies–when I ask about them – “you can do this to me, and then you can do that, and then this other thing while wearing a red dress and balancing on your left foot…” Even if all of those things are super hot to me being presented with a role to play spooks me. This doesn’t mean we do the things I want and never the things you want, if I didn’t want to do the things that are sexy to you I wouldn’t play with you in the first place. I want to know your fantasies because I want to think about ways to incorporate them, and I want to have honest conversations about the things that are important for you to get out of this. But I don’t want to have to run a project to someone else’s budget I never saw until the project was already over budget. I kink on control, when you tell me to control you in this very specific and detailed way it sorta takes away the piece that’s hot for me.
- Be aware of my intimacy markers because this thing is actually a very vulnerable part of me, I’m not an icequeen bitch of the universe, there’s nothing rewarding for me there, instead I’m bringing all of me to this so you have to realize it’s fragile sometimes and have the conversations about what broke in ways that leave both of us feeling good retrying.
I’m sure there’s more but I can’t put my finger on them just now. What about you? What makes it safe for you to express dominance?