Thursday, November 02, 2006

Broken Protocol

Protocol (diplomacy)

Protocol is the etiquette of diplomacy and affairs of state.
A protocol is a rule which guides how an activity should be performed, especially in the field of diplomacy. In the diplomatic and government fields of endeavor protocols are often unwritten guidelines. Protocols specify the proper and generally-accepted behavior in matters of state and diplomacy, such as showing appropriate respect to a head of state, ranking diplomats in chronological order of their accreditation at court, and so on.

Break of Protocol - example:

I understand that you will be in the United States in mid-November for a gathering at Falls Church, Virginia. Considering the difficulty and expense of such a journey, I hope that during your visit you might be willing to pay a call on me, so that we might begin to build toward such a missional relationship. If that is a possibility, I hope you will contact this office as soon as possible.

If you were a diplomat involved in international relations, can you see where the new Presiding Bishop breaks protocol? How many forms of protocol does she break? Can you name them all?

And we wonder why Americans have such a terrible reputation abroad.



Anonymous said...

What are the breaches of protocol and which manual are you using?

Or, do you prefer to just make accusations without backing them up with facts?

Anonymous said...

Publicly throwing down the gauntlet like this is a huge faux pas. She has now established that the public relations combat will be fought via the world wide web. Let the nuke-slinging begin!

Anonymous said...

Mike -- The PB has also adopted an extremely familial tone & making vague references. This letter could be used in a "MGT-305 Business Writing" class as an example of how not write an invitation.

The phrase "considering the difficulty and expense of such a journey" has a very condescending tone to it and has a slight ring of imperialism - she has made a presumption. "I hope that during your visit you might be willing to pay a call on me" is a very personal phrase, something used in a email or on the phone with someone you are well acquainted, also has a presumption that she is one to be "call upon." The Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF) board meeting is hinted at but not expressly acknowledged, thus implication of either it being unimportant to her or that she is clueless.

Law of Reciprocity - the secular version of the second half of the Golden Rule - if she what to be respected, she must show respect. George W. Bush is NOT known for his elegance, but he took lessons before he met Queen Elizabeth II -- all the British tabloids were watching for the slightest error, but ended up impressed. He learned the protocol for the situation, it showed respect to British.

BB is correct. All Americans would do well to learn something of the culture we wish to engage with in dialog, especially with those we find ourselves in disagreement.

Anonymous said...

And somehow it is not a breach of protocol for Primates from other provinces of the Communion to come to the United States without calling on the Primate of the Episcopal Church? Not only not calling on her, but announcing their intention to not call on her! Kevin, you speak of the golden rule. In this case, I would say the Rt. Rev. Jefferts Schori is turning the other cheek after having already been insulted by her so-called Brothers in Christ.

Still, I have not yet seen anyone quote a source of protocol, be it the State Department, Miss Manners or Dear Abby.

But, that would require you to give the Rt. Rev. Jefferts Schori a chance, rather than writing her off before her installation.

Unknown said...

"One simple definition of diplomacy is that it is the oral aspect of international relations. There is an essential difference between what is written and what is spoken, not only because spoken words are essentially more ephemeral (verba volant), but because the spoken language has infinitely more nuances, being both richer and more subtle than written texts.

"Consequently, in an oral exchange one can suggest more than one could in writing, and if one knows how to listen can also understand the other side better. It is in the oral domain that not only "interests" can be adjusted or comprehended, but also viewpoints, plans and intentions. But oral. diplomatic communication can only be effective if the conversations are part of an ongoing process, if the talks stretch over a period of time and can be resumed each time when it is necessary. And such conversations will only be effective if the interlocutors, while of a level of responsibility, are not those who hold supreme responsibility. If the top people meet face to face, men or women whose every word risks being the last word, the word without further recourse, most of the time they will not say anything useful because the tension is simply too great. On the other hand, someone who is situated a little lower on the ladder of responsibility can orally explore things much further without compromising anyone but himself, and in this manner he may encounter opportunities which he may either seize or let slip by."

From: Global Portal for Diplomats (

BB NOTE: If the PB-Elect were truly serious about wanting to reach out to the Global South Archbishops, then she would have followed diplomatic protocol. She would appoint an emissary to make contact with an emissary in the Global South and quietly begin to explore opportunities to open up conversation and only after there was substantial work, would the Primates themselves meet. But to follow what Schori has done with this letter - it's just either incredibly inept or unbelievably mean. She's not interested - if she were, she'd follow the diplomatic protocol - especially in a situation that has been caused by the American Episcopal Church. This mess is our doing - and now she's the point person to fix it. So far, since the moment she was elected, she has made one diplomatic mess after another. This isn't even Advanced Diplomacy - this is Diplomacy 101.

I work in DC in a global firm where diplomatic protocol is essential. It is what I do for a living - making sure that all the protocols are in place so that there is success. I grew up in the US Navy, where there was even more protocol to follow if there was to be success. And I've worked in Episcopal and Anglican church politics since the mid-1980s. There are forms of British protocol (remember where our Anglican roots are) that we must at least try to follow if we want success.

That none of this was done - and in fact, quite the opposite, tells even the casual observer what the true intentions of this letter really are - and it's very very sad.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mike,

You first question is valid, your second question is an ad hominem attack on BB. Then your second response is a basic straw man. Despite this, I've attempted to engaged your question, using only the text BB gave. Next BB graciously responded with the requested text citation.

Learning how proper form in talking to people will aid you future grade school experience, assist in gaining employment afterwards, and help you in the Grace 20s/30s program you listed in your blog. Good people skills help us all throughout life.

In that vain, let me share some links:

These are only from quick Google searches & only a briefest glance at the quality. IThe three groupings are diplomatic protocol, business writing tips and etiquette. The last link proves interesting, even people living in alternative subcultures know the importance of etiquette.

Happy reading Mike, I hope do well with you grad school and you other life pursuits.


Anonymous said...

I concur - Why should she expect response to a note when she the organization has taken action the caused a breach in relations. The reference to expense ("how burdensome that must be for you") is simply not done, and the invitation to "pay a call" and "contact this office" is requiring the invitee to come to her on her terms vice humbling herself (and office) and coming to the invitee on the invitee's own terms.

TS said...

Unrelated, but as a Dylan fan I had to share this with you: