Lesson 3 – The Agreement Frame

The Agreement Frame

Dale Carnegie has written what many people feel is still the definitive book on dealing with difficult people: How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book is still in print. It has gone through a great many revisions and edits to keep it up to date, but his essential message is, “You can only get people to change when they want to change.”

Anthony Robbins has taken the same ideas and shown us how we can use them to be more successful in our lives. In his book Unlimited Power he cites the example of a woman who was trying to convince a hotel clerk to let her have her room several hours after check out. Her husband had been injured in a skiing accident and she wanted him to rest until transportation was arranged.

The desk clerk was politely but firmly giving her all the reasons why it wasn’t possible.

The woman listened respectfully but kept coming up with even more compelling counter reasons. She went from charm and feminine persuasion to reason and logic, without ever losing her temper or getting haughty. Because she was flexible enough to continue producing new arguments and new behaviour, the clerk finally gave her a rueful smile and said, “Madam, I think you are winning.”

In Robbins’ view, there is no such thing as resistance; rather, there are inflexible communicators who push at the wrong time and in the wrong direction. A good communicator senses resistance, finds points of agreement, aligns him/herself with them, and then redirects the communication in the way he/she wants it to go.

Remember that certain words create resistance. What are they? “But” is a biggie that we use almost without thinking. It is probably one of the most destructive words in the English language “That’s true, but…” sounds like you are saying, “It’s not true and furthermore, it’s irrelevant.” What if you said instead, “That’s true and here’s something else that’s true as well…”

Robbins, and many other communicators, suggests we become skillful at using what he calls “The Agreement Frame.” This is a communication tool that helps you communicate exactly how you feel about an issue, without compromising your integrity in any way, and without disagreeing with the person.

The Agreement Frame is made up of three phrases you can use in any communication to respect the person you are disagreeing with, maintain rapport, share with him/her what you feel is true, and yet never resist his/her opinion in any way.

Here are the three phrases:

  • I appreciate and…
  • I respect and…
  • I agree and…

Example: “I respect the intensity of your feelings, and I think if you heard my side of it you might feel differently.”