Enthusiastic Consent

When you invite someone to have a shared experience together, professionally or personally, and consent is given grudgingly, this tells you that the invitation isn’t very aligned. Even if you’re ostensibly getting a yes, there are probably some unresolved objections behind that yes, so you’re getting a compromised version of a yes.

This in itself is another layer of invitation for you to unpack. Do you want to move forward with the consent you received, or do you want to go for a more aligned form of consent?

This isn’t a trick question. Sometimes you may be fine with the consent you received, especially if the invitation is fairly simple. It may not be worth the effort to aim for a more aligned version, especially if the consequences are minor either way. A grudging yes may be good enough in some situations.

Sometimes, however, you may not want to settle for a compromised yes. You may want to aim for a higher standard and go for a true win-win, such as by changing the offer or by addressing and resolving objections. And if you can’t reach win-win, then you may prefer to declare “no deal” and withdraw the offer,

One nice indicator that you have a real yes from the other person is that consent is given not plainly but enthusiastically. This is a pretty good sign that the other person likes your invitation. Such a response or the lack thereof is not, however, a reflection on the quality or overall generosity of your offer. It’s just a reflection of the other person’s emotional alignment with your offer.

Some people aren’t very emotionally expressive, so the lack of expressed enthusiasm isn’t necessarily a sign that your invitation isn’t landing well. But the presence of an enthusiastic response is generally a good sign.

Enthusiasm as a Minimum Standard

Consider where it might be useful to look for enthusiastic consent as your minimum standard when it comes to following through with action in some areas. Consider where you might want to interpret resistant consent as a no.

You can apply this standard both to invitations you give, so you’re looking to see if other people respond enthusiastically, and to invitations you receive, so you’re gauging your own level of enthusiasm.

If you or someone else says yes to an invitation but without much enthusiasm, you’re probably looking at a partial match situation. While partial matches may provide some secondary gains now and then, they can also clutter your life and block full matches from coming through.

Are there any areas of life where it may be worthwhile to consider enthusiasm as a minimum standard rather than a nice-to-have?

One area is creative work. It’s easier to flow into action when the enthusiasm is there. If I get a creative idea, such as for a new article or course, but I’m not feeling much enthusiasm for it, I’m inclined to dismiss it as a partial match idea. The idea may still be good, but it’s not necessarily good for me at that time. I often get ideas that I reject due to a lack of personal enthusiasm, and this keeps the door open for more aligned ideas to come through. I find it better to keep my energy free and unattached instead of occupying it with partial matches.

Another area is doing anything romantic, playful, sexual, or adventurous with another person. Enthusiastic consent is a worthwhile standard to aim for, especially since the quality of the experience will probably depend on some mutual enthusiasm. You may even want to look for 4D consent, so there’s a positive response from the body, mind, heart, and spirit.

I’ve noticed that even if I’m initially enthusiastic about an invitation, but the other person clearly isn’t, their response effectively takes the wind out of my sails. Then I often feel it’s best to invite someone else, to make a different invitation, to invite something similar but at a later time, or to let the idea go.

Crafting Better Offers

If you raise your standard for the type of response you want to see, this challenges you to get better at crafting offers. This usually requires getting better at understanding people and making the offer more aligned for them.

One area where I see a lot of people fall flat is when they’re looking for a job. This is a form of invitation. You’re offering your services to a potential employer. Many people bemoan the unenthusiastic responses they receive, both as potential employers and employees. And many are willing to accept a grudging yes. Could that willingness to accept a grudging yes be part of the problem?

Consider that if you’ve already decided that a grudging yes is good enough, you probably won’t put as much effort into crafting a quality offer. But this also lowers your chances of getting any kind of yes.

Imagine how much better your offers might be if you held yourself to the standard of “enthusiastic consent or no deal.” Would you be more likely to land a good job if this is your minimum standard? I’d say yes.

I have received a lot of crappy and misaligned offers over the years, both personally and professionally, and I think one reason is that these offers have come from people who are willing to accept any kind of yes, even a very grudging or resistant yes. They aren’t even trying to meet the standard of win-win. If they were, they’d seek to craft a more personalized offer.

Personalizing Your Invitations

One of the best ways to aim for the higher standard of enthusiastic consent is to make less generic and more personalized invitations. Learn what would create a win for the other person before you think about crafting an invitation or offer.

For instance, before you show up for a job interview, do you already have a pretty good idea of what kind of candidate would receive an enthusiastic yes? Do you feel that what you’re able to offer has a decent likelihood of being met with enthusiastic consent? If not, then why are you wasting their time by showing up with a weak offer? At best you’ll get a partial match. Is that really what you want? Won’t it be easier to get hired if you aim for the standard of enthusiastic consent?

Enthusiastic consent may seem like a higher standard to meet, but it’s also an easier standard in a way. Aiming for this standard helps you elevate the quality of your offers and invitations, so you’re more likely to get an aligned yes in response. This standard helps you steer clear of the energy-sucking swamp of partial matches. It helps you craft better offers.