My brother Steve and I have been working on our proposals for newer and improved agreements on our behavior for years now and here is an example of a shared proposal that we have agreed to. I am hoping to apply it within an even more personal relationship such as a marriage someday.
We propose that when we have a conversation that we recognise that all conversations seem to embody an exchange of some sort i.e. from exchanging of pleasantries to exchanging grand proposals, and every level of exchange in between.
Hence, during our exchanges we believe it’s useful for us to have an agreed process, protocol or principle – that helps to guide the conversation towards more productive and mutually beneficial outcome.
Often, protocols and standards are implied within peer groups and societies generally, though we believe we can have our own explicit agreements on a process that helps moderate our conversations or exchanges.
So, for example if we don’t agree with the other’s tone, volume, context, rhetoric or simply detect unwanted anger (whoever “wants” anger?) then the agreement allows us to object to prevent us from feeling intimidated by the other person’s use of words or behaviour during our exchange. We can do this by using COS to either de-escalate or disengage.
COS stands for:
COS works by accounting for recalcitrant exchanges with 3 strikes and we’re out.
Strike 1. A Caution is applied and an acknowledgment is necessary from the offender eg “ yeah ok, I retract”.
Strike 2. An Objection is raised “I Object” and an apology is necessary.
Eg. “Yeah sorry I was out of line”.
Strike 3. Stop is applied and then an acceptable apology is necessary.
Eg What was done, why it was done and what would be done next time”. And this apology needs to be accepted by the receiver.
The COS 3 strikes should be applied consecutively ie. We cannot use Object or Stop unless we have used Caution first. We agree that we are both responsible for moderating each other’s behavior, during our exchanges, using COS and if we ever reach Stop we both agree to follow up later in an exchange to see how we allowed ourselves to get to this level of objection, as obviously the ideal is to never need to use COS or only get to a the Caution level. Another example is like the free kick in football, then a yellow card and finally a red card, where the offender is sent off.
And finally this proposal and any other from us can always be improved through our future conversations/exchanges and any updates to this or any other process or principle should be appreciated, anticipated and ultimately encouraged.