Flipchart paper, markers
Participants give suggestions for terms of the Cooperation Agreement. Someone from the training team writes these down so everyone can see them. If the exercise What I (Don’t) Like in Communication with Others has already been done before the Cooperation Agreement, participants may be invited to include elements from the previous exercise.
After a suggestion is written down, the whole group is asked to comment on it. If there is disagreement about a suggestion, the person writing down the suggestions marks it (with an asterisk or in a different colour). Members of the training team participate in this exercise as equals, giving their own suggestions (about how to conduct a discussion, what to do about mobile phones, etc.). An indispensable point in the Agreement is that it is subject to change and that everyone has the right to initiate adding new or deleting existing terms. When there are no more suggestions, those that were not contested should be read out. The suggestions that were not unanimously accepted should also be read out, because it is important to take into account everything that was suggested, as well as reasons for contesting some points. This also introduces the principle of respect for the needs of others, including when that need is not universally shared.
The Cooperation Agreement exercise can also be done as part of the introductory workshop. In any case, it should be a requisite part of every training. Although a lot of time is set aside for the Cooperation Agreement, it is never wasted because, apart from the visible work on communication and cooperation, it fosters a sense of ownership of the Agreement, introduces the basic set-up for cooperation and provides participants with a way to influence the process and take responsibility for it.