Introduction to Risk Profiles

This online workshop is a companion to the in-person workshop we offer. As such, it lacks the discussions and comparison of different experiences that happen during those workshops, as well as some of the nuance that comes with that approach.

However, our hope is that this outline of the topic and the related workbook suggestions will still be helpful as you consider your own risk profile and ways that you might use it effectively according to your goals.

Risk Profile in Business

The term “risk profile” is most commonly associated with business and investing, and in that context, refers to the willingness and ability for an individual or organization to take risks as well as the threats to which they may be exposed. When defining a risk profile, the first determination is the acceptable level of risk and the appropriate trade-off between risk and return. In determining a risk profile for investing, advisors typically consider the ratio of assets to liabilities as well as the client’s “risk aversion” versus “risk seeking” nature.

Once developed, a risk profile is then used to guide an individual’s overall decision-making strategy. It’s important to note that the risk profile is not an “iron-clad” rule that dictates decisions. Instead, the individual will refer to it regularly to help guide decisions while also considering the specifics of each decision; they will also revise their risk profile on a regular basis as their circumstances and needs change over time.

Risk Profile in Rope

Similarly in rope and other kink-related activities, defining your risk profile is about determining the degree of risk you are willing to tolerate in pursuit of the things you enjoy. To help you with this consideration, it can be useful to consider assets and liabilities—both as they relate to your pursuits and in real terms—and also to reflect on your risk-averse or risk-seeking nature. Taking the time to think this through in an intentional and comprehensive manner before you find yourself faced with new situations means that you will more likely make an informed decision, rather than one dictated by the moment.

The most dangerous thing in any negotiation is a person who doesn’t know themselves very well.

It’s also important to remember that your risk profile is intended as a guide to help you make decisions in real time about the activities you choose to pursue, not as an immutable limitation on your fun. In addition, in the context of negotiation, having a clear understanding of your risk profile can help you determine the best approach to take when working with others. And finally, your risk profile should be something you revisit often, particularly as circumstances, needs, and interests change over time.

Outline of Risk Profile

Just as a risk profile is meant to be a guiding concept rather than a rigid list of rules, our outline of a risk profile — while intended to be comprehensive — is in no way intended as “the only way” to think about risk profiles.

Instead, what we try to do in this workshop is to raise the most common areas of concern. For each, we prompt you to:

  • assess your own particular needs, interests, assets, and liabilities
  • reflect on the level of risk that particular combination poses to you
  • determine whether or not that level of risk is acceptable to you
  • consider changes you might make to adjust that risk level if desired

We also note that not all areas or aspects are within your control, so learning to recognize that and make an informed decision in light of that is also part of learning to work within your risk profile.

Finally, we leave room for, and remind you to consider, potential areas that we have omitted that may be particular to you or your circumstances.

With that said, below is the outline for our consideration of risk profiles.

  • Areas of Risk – individual components that determine your risk tolerance; tend to change more gradually over time
    • Intent – the goal; what it is you want to do, what you hope to experience or gain
    • Means – the what; the things you do in pursuit of your intent
      • Activity – the thing you’re going to do
      • Skills / Experience – the ability for you and others to do it successfully
      • Interaction – the ground-rules for the activity (practice, play, performance, etc.)
    • Methods – the how; the manner in which you pursue your intent
      • Consent – your understanding of and approach to consent
      • Negotiation – your understanding of and approach to negotiation
      • Communication – your ability to provide and receive communication effectively
    • Needs – underlying physical and emotional assets, liabilities, and priorities
      • Physical – your physical abilities and limitations (including sexual aspects)
      • Emotional – your emotional abilities and limitations
    • Concerns – underlying practical and legal assets, liabilities, and priorities
      • Practical – other concerns potentially impacted by your activities (job, finances, etc.)
      • Legal – legal concerns potentially impacted by your activities (liability, violations, etc.)
  • Variables – larger components that impact your risk tolerance; tend to change more quickly or more often
    • Comfort Zone – overall sense of comfort and readiness for an activity on a given occasion
    • Context – specific context for an activity or pursuit
      • Relationship – how well you know and trust other participants
      • Community – how well you know and trust the larger community within with the intent is pursued
      • Location – how appropriate the location is for the intent and the aspects that mitigate or increase risk