Rule Omega is a concept suggested by Jordan (Green)Hall and Daniel Schmachtenberger whereby in conversation one grants the benefit of the doubt to the person who is trying to convey a message or an idea in order to strive for a common understanding before disagreeing with what is being said. It is a conversational technique designed to keep dialogue generative and flowing. Rule Omega cannot be demanded by others; it has to be granted.
Purpose of Rule Omega[edit | edit source]
The underlying idea behind Rule Omega is the notion that the other person is trying to express something meaningful and that one should make an active effort to help isolate the signal from the noise. Even though what is being said might sound absurd or even offensive, by affording the speaker the benefit of the doubt, the listener can make an active effort to understand what is being said before dismissing it. That active effort might include using ones skills of discernment and asking the original speaker some clarifying questions in order to get a better understanding of what the speaker is trying to convey.
Rule Omega is especially useful when discussing challenging topics, because the speaker may struggle to express their ideas accurately or eloquently to the conversation partner(s). Being able to rely on the listeners doing their best to understand provides the psychological safety necessary to take a risk and speak about fresh ideas and have more explorative conversations.
Rule Omega is not about perceiving all perspectives to be equally valid, but rather allowing all different perspectives to be expressed (knowing that they will contain some amount of noise as well as signal) that one might jointly isolate the useful information and build a higher order understanding.
Another way to think of Rule Omega is the notion that one can learn something useful from the person speaking in order to improve ones own understanding of the subject.
Reasons for refusing to grant Rule Omega[edit | edit source]
In War On Sensemaking II, Daniel Schmachtenberger clarifies that Rule Omega should not be granted to everyone, and that the concept itself can be weaponized. Schmachtenberger gives the examples of encountering a conartist, or somebody engaging in mostly rhetoric instead of earnestness and sincerity as instances where one should not grant Rule Omega. Somebody weaponizing Rule Omega would exploit someone else’s willingness to grant the benefit of the doubt for their own gain.