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4 Secrets to creating good behaviour agreements

I think having an agreement on what is the expected behaviour norms is essential in encouraging positive behaviour. That is because agreements outline types of behaviour, rules and/or boundaries to follow. It will lay the groundwork for consistency, justifying why the behaviour is not appropriate and creates expectations of mutual respect. A good agreement needs to have four things:
  1. Positively framed as much as possible. You want to describe what you want to create, not what you do not want. Stating “…show respect for each other” is preferable to stating “…will not disrespect each other.”
  2. Be broad and not too specific. Use concepts like “respect”, “feedback”, and “follow safety guidelines”. To attempt to describe every single action that can or cannot be done will create a list so long it will be unusable and no one will remember it.
  3. There may be types of negative behaviour that are likely to occur and may need to be specifically addressed, like violent/aggressive behaviour or drug use. If including them make sure that they are kept to as few a number as possible. Again you can use broad concepts like, “…will not engage in unlawful behaviour” or “use illegal drugs”. But you might want to positively framed this as “will act in accordance with the law” or “will only use legally prescribed drugs.”
  4. Consequences when failing to comply with the agreement should also be included. These will need to be real consequences. That means they are realistic, justifiable and defined. Of course, you need to be willing and able to carry out the consequences as well. You might want to word this as “consequences for failure to comply with the agreement may include…”.

Chapter 3 in the book goes into lots more detail about establishing and using agreements. It gives you additional idea’s on what you can put in the agreement. You can get free access to the whole of chapter 3 if you visit the agreements page on the website.
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