KISSable Agreements (Tip #7)

Two stylized hands clasping, forming a heart. Copyright-free symbol designed by Ravi Poovaiah, Professor, IDC, IIT Bombay.This is Tip #7: KISS: Keep It Simple, Silly! in my Agreements Workbook series.

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‘Nuff said… ;^)

~♥ Dawn

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7) KISS: Keep It Simple, Silly!

As with so many things in life, simpler is often better. Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done.  Here are a few quick tips for KISSable Agreements.

Practice makes perfect!

Most people need practice making Agreements, so start with small, easy ones, preferably ones that don’t have a lot of emotional “charge.” For instance, you might make an Agreement about turning out the lights when you leave the room, or picking up clothes and putting them in the hamper.  Once you’ve made these Agreements, and seen how the process works, move on to some of the smaller Agreements with more charge. Perhaps you might agree to reserve a pet name for one partner, or to each partner having one coffee-date with a new person. Whatever is a little stretch is good, but not too difficult. If you have the time, it’s great to build your Agreement-making muscles slowly, so you gain confident along with your expertise.

Short, specific, and to the point

Brevity is the soul of Agreements, as well as wit. Keep focused. Pretend you’re writing the Ten Commandments Guidelines for your relationship, and they all have to fit on a single tablet.

Break it down

Three small agreements are much easier to meet than one big complex one. The human memory can only hold so much at one time, about 7 bits of discrete data [ref: How We Decide However, we do some interesting stuff with “chunking” data as well, to make it easier to remember. That’s why our US ten-digit phone numbers are divided up into three sections, including the area code, the local exchange (or central office code), and the four digits of the phone number itself. So break down complex Agreements into several smaller ones, and if you can, arrange related Agreements near to one another in your book or document.


Conversely, if your Agreements book is starting to look like the US Tax Code—simplify.  Too many concurrent agreements will also be impossible to keep. It might be tempting to include everything you’ve ever been annoyed by in this or other relationships in one monster Agreement, but try to keep focused on the most important Agreements that really make a difference.

DO Try This At Home! — A Multi-tasking Exercise

When I present this material in a workshop, I often include this short exercise. I know you don’t want to get up from wherever you’re reading this, but it really does work better if you try it for real.

No, really. Get up and try it!

Part 1:

Do these things in order:

Stand up, both feet on the floor, head toward the ceiling or sky.

Take one hand (doesn’t matter which), and rub your tummy. Stop.

Take the other hand, and pat your head. Stop.

Hop up and down on one foot. Stop.

Whistle or hum.  Stop.

Part 2:

Now do all of those things in order again, but this time, don’t stop one before starting the next.

Stand up, both feet on the floor, head toward the ceiling or sky.

Next, take one hand and rub your tummy. Keep doing that,

AND take the other hand, and pat your head. Keep doing that,

AND hop up and down on one foot. Keep doing that,

AND whistle or hum as well.

Part 3:

Try to do all of them at once, starting all at the same time:

Hop up and down on one foot while patting your head with one hand, rubbing your tummy with the other, and whistling or humming at the same time.  Do NOT start one at a time; it has to be all at once. Go!

Part 4: Reflection

A few of you physically talented types will probably be able to complete the exercise without falling over.  Those few of you will just have to imagine my point, here. For most of us, though… Note how easy it is to do each activity one at a time.  Conversely, note how difficult it is to keep doing them all at once, despite the fact that you can quite easily do any one of the actions by itself.  Also notice that when you tried to do them all at once without working up to it, it was extremely difficult if not impossible to do.

The same is true in Agreements. Keep It Simple (Silly); start with small, easy Agreements and put them in place one at a time; work up to more complex Agreements; and don’t try to do too many of them all at once. You’ll find them easier to make, and to keep.


∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥ ∞ ♥

[© 2012 Dawn M. Davidson]

Note that these entries are all rough drafts, and thus are probably missing things like references. If you know the perfect reference to add, feel free to suggest it! I always like to add to my resource collection.

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3 thoughts on “KISSable Agreements (Tip #7)

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