The Control Book - Division of labour

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The following is an extract from The Control Book by Peter Masters, pp. 101 - 104:

In a world where all things are equal---including the talents, skills and rank of each individual---we'd all take equal responsibility for making communication work, for making sure that we say what we mean in a way which is likely to be correctly interpreted, and that we listen and interpret in such a way as to get the correct and original sense of the communication. In reality, it is rarely the case that we are equally skilled and responsible.

If you consider an adult talking to a child, then you might realise that a child is simply not capable of understanding concepts and ideas as sophisticated as those which an adult might have. At the same time, a child's limited experience with the world makes it likely that they can't put themselves in the shoes of the adult and second guess what the adult means by something. This places the majority of the responsibility for getting the message across properly on the adult's shoulders.

The listener involved in any communication generally interprets what is said on the basis of their experience. You might say "tree" while thinking of a tall, majestic oak tree, but the person listening to you is thinking of a decorated Christmas tree. Both, of course, are trees, but the images and feelings associated with each are very different. It comes down to the fact that the listener effectively has choices about how they interpret what you say. There is no rule that says that they have to interpret what you say the way you meant it. Choice equals control, and as we're talking about control-sensitive people and relationships, it's definitely worth our while here to consider choice in communication.

Here's an example from the world of dominance and submission. Imagine that you tell your submissive to "allow their hair to grow long at the back". Maybe you like long hair for the look, or maybe you also like long hair because it gives you something to hold on to. As it stands, such an order leaves your submissive with quite a lot of flexibility about what they do with the hair. They can just let it grow, they can wear it plaited, they can trim it regularly to make sure it's all the same length, or they can have it permed or coloured.

By telling them simply to, "allow their hair to grow long at the back", you've given them an order, but at the same time you've also given them freedom. They won't, as a result of this order, be able to feel tightly or strictly controlled. The reason they can't feel tightly controlled is because they have a very wide choice in how they interpret what you meant.

For a dominant and a submissive, the responsibility for ensuring that communication works properly in both directions must lie with the dominant. It is the dominant who must be in control of communication, just as it is the dominant who needs to be in control of other aspects of the submissive's life and relationship with them.

So, how does a dominant control communication? Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. You can't directly control what goes on in your submissive's mind when you say something, but you can learn about their past experiences, and you can take note of their previous reactions to what you say in different circumstances so that you can closely predict their reactions. For example, are they unusually sensitive to criticism, insecure about some aspect of themselves, shy, or stubborn regarding new ideas?
  2. Your submissive will interpret what you say or do in conjunction with other cues which you give out. For example, your posture and the look on your face will combine with the tone of your voice, and with the actual words you say to give the complete picture. This is one reason why written-only communication, such as e-mail, is prone to being misinterpreted more easily than face-to-face communication. To make sure that your submissive gets the right idea from you, make an effort to consciously add as many cues as you can to help get the right message across. These cues can be things such as gestures, postures or facial expressions that reinforce, or add depth, to what you are saying. A couple of examples might be: using hand gestures towards the floor at the same time as you tell them to kneel, or wearing a stern facial expression at the same time as you are admonishing them.
  3. Your submissive will be predisposed to interpreting what you say and do in different ways according to their expectations. These expectations are often related to where they are---both geographically, such as indoors, outdoors, or in which room of the house---and where they are mentally and spiritually, and are related to what's going on around them at the time. For example, holding the cane you normally use to discipline them while talking about housework, will give them an entirely different slant on what you are saying than if you were holding just a cup of coffee,
  4. Have them explain back to you what they think you mean by something. This is asserting control by having them do something---i.e. explain---and by requiring that they do understand the way you want. It also gives you valuable and direct feedback as you see how they initially interpreted what you said.


Communication requires real effort from both sides. This section has looked briefly at strategies which you can use to put yourself in the driver's seat and keep yourself there. The goal is control, and communication especially is one of the areas which is available for your consideration and attention.

Things to think about

  1. Suppose you strike your naked submissive's rear end with a riding crop three times. How do they know why? How do they know what this action is supposed to mean? Is it punishment? Is it motivation? How can you guarantee that there is no confusion?
  2. How do you make sure that you have understood something which your submissive has explained to you? Do you get them to explain it a second time in a different way? Do you tell them what you understood and have them correct you? What ramifications can this process have as far as your control over them is concerned?