The Agreement Frame: Solving Complex Arguments

 Mar 02, 2016

Use the ‘Agreement Frame’ to work through complex workplace issues.

The Agreement Frame can be used in any situation to explain your viewpoint in an assertive, non-confrontational way, without watering your position down. It is designed to encourage discussion and information sharing between all parties. Although it can be used in many situations, it is particularly effective in conflict resolution.

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 behavior, 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,

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.”

Remember, the words “but” and “however” are conversation-stoppers. Try to avoid using them with the agreement frame.

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About the Author:

Stan Thomas  

Stan has been working in a professional training capacity for over 15 years and possesses a wealth of knowledge in the areas of adult education gained through both formal study and practical training delivery both nationally and internationally. As the Professional Development Manager for New Horizons Melbourne, Stan is responsible for the delivery, quality control and enhancement of existing and new programs at New Horizons.

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