When most people think of the phrase, “Safe Word” there are two areas they’ve usually heard it used. One: certain types of risqué sexual activity. Two: undercover operations in jobs like law enforcement and/or the military. But I would like to suggest there are many other applications where a Safe Word could be utilized. Let me explain…
The other day I was on the phone with my friend Andrew and he was telling me about a meaningful, deep, important conversation he was having with his brother. Somewhere in the midst of it, his wife poked her head into where they were at to ask him a question. While Andrew would normally never kick her out of anywhere, her presence would have messed up the atmosphere of good conversation he and his brother were sharing. So he shooed her away and she left. While his wife is a great person and left without being offended, some folks are not so lucky to have such understanding people in their lives. Enter: the Safe Word.
Let’s say Andrew’s wife was not such the patient woman that she is, and instead was quick with her replies and retorts. Being shooed away (most likely with a flail or wave of Andrew’s arm or hand) could have resulted in feelings being hurt or even angry yelling combined with one (or more) of her own hand gestures. You see, having one’s spouse shoo you away could be taken as he/she not wanting you around, and hand waving or gesturing could be taken as offensive while putting up a barrier between the two of you. (That’s right, dropping some psychiatry on y’all.)
But what if there was a way to say, “Get out” or, “Shut up” or, “Not now” or, “I would but I can’t”, or any of the thousands of other words/expressions/replies that exit our bodies every day; you know, those things that have the potential to be misunderstood. Imagine if there was a way to dissolve those volatile situations, heck, completely avoid them before they ever occurred. And what if we could fit all that power into one word? How time effective and problem solving would that make our daily lives?
So what it is and how does it work? Some examples:
· Two friends are having a very serious, very private conversation and a third friend walks in. “Tomato.” Third friend walks away to prevent the first two from having to explain or possibly hurt any feelings.
· Husband and wife are arguing and one of them realizes they have circled around and are fighting the same fight again. “Tomato.” Arguing ends immediately because both realize nothing is being solved and only danger lies ahead.
· During a phone (or in-person) conversation someone or something comes up and there needs to be a change in topic. “Tomato.”
(Yes, “Tomato” would be my safe word.)
To put it simply, using Safe Words in daily life circumstances is a way to instantly make a point and to make it without discussion or explanation. Not only do they help you avoid embarrassing or uncomfortable situations, the concept is adaptable to so many aspects of life. And one more thing, by the very definition of the words contained within, there is no danger in Safe Words. You know what they are and you know what they do. You’re not allowed to argue their significance or even their placement because they are, that’s right, Safe. Someone said it, Done.
Problems? I don’t see any.