Saturday, February 27, 2010

Agreement Frame

The Agreement Frame is a linguistic pattern that enables us to elegantly disagree with and convince someone without breaking rapport.

The key words to use are “I agree” plus “and”.

The Agreement Frame pattern looks like this.

We start by stating “I agree”, then we state the other person’s model of the world i.e. perspective of the situation. Next we state “and”, followed by our own desired outcome, and end by stating the other person’s desired outcome.

The Agreement Frame avoids resistance from others, keeps others involved in what we are saying, and leaves them open to new ideas.

When we use the phrase “I agree”, the other person’s mind switches to a receptive state to hear how we agree with them. This receptive state also makes them more open to our suggestion.

Should we instead use the phrase “I disagree”, the other person’s mind instantly switches to a defensive state. Instead of listening to our suggestion, their minds will be pre-occupied with how to counter our proposal. Such a situation is hardly conducive to getting co-operation from others.

The secret of the Agreement Frame lies in the use of rapport. Using the Agreement Frame, we verbally pace the person we are communicating with, and then lead him to where we want the communication to go.

We illustrate the Agreement Frame in action with the following situation, something that often happens at the office.

In our example above, the subordinate’s response is likely to displease his supervisor.

The subordinate could have achieved his desired outcome elegantly - going home for the day - in such a way that his supervisor was more likely to feel agreeable, simply by wrapping an Agreement Frame around his disagreement as in the following example:

In this case, the subordinate had used the Agreement Frame. Let’s break down the language pattern of what the subordinate said:

The subordinate’s communication has the two key pacing elements – “I agree” plus “and”.

By agreeing with part of his supervisor’s communication, the subordinate begins to pace his supervisor by acknowledging her model of the world.

The subordinate then continues to pace his supervisor by using the “and” part of the agreement frame.

The “and” is followed by switching to leading the supervisor in the direction of his desired outcome i.e. to go home.

Finally, the frame ends with the subordinate repeating the supervisor’s desired outcome, which is to complete the work.

The Agreement Frame wraps neatly around any negative in such a way that overall the communication is received in a positive light, like a juicy hamburger.

Give it a try, because you will have fun.

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