The NLP Agreement Frame
The NLP Agreement Frame is very useful in conflict resolution of all kinds as well as Sales and Negotiation as a way of keep or getting someone on your side.
The principle here is that we each have our own model of the world. We each make judgements, decisions, and have beliefs that make up our model of the world. My model of the world is different to yours and yours is different to all of the people that are around you. Mine is not necessarily right, neither is yours and at the same time I think that it is right, and you probably do yours.
If I question your model of the world and impose my model of the world on you, then you are going to feel resistance to that and act accordingly.
We might know that someone is wrong in what they say and if we tell them that they are wrong and we are right, then they are not necessarily going to listen to us as they may resent the fact that we are correcting them (notice that I used the word “and” rather than “but” in this sentence to gain your agreement). At the very least it will break any rapport that we have with them.
The agreement frame gives us a way of communicating that will enable us to get our message across without resistance. Does that sound useful? It is.
Of course this could be used manipulatively, and this is not the purpose. It is designed to assist someone in gaining understanding and reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.
This is how you may use it
Let’s say someone says “It’s horrible out there, really windy.”
You may reply “I understand what you are saying but at least it isn’t snowing!”
You may think that you have got the person onside by saying that you understand what they are saying. You probably will not have. The fact that you have used the word “but” means that you communicate to them “I don’t agree with you.” The word but negates all of the words before it. It says to someone, “you are wrong and I am right. Here is how it is really..”
The thing is that we are very complex thinkers and you cannot possibly understand someone else’s thinking completely, so by saying “I understand” it adds doubt into the mind (subconsciously) to the person that you are communicating with. “But” then tells them that you think that they are wrong. They may well then try to explain to you what they meant to try to help you understand better what they are saying. “Yes it isn’t snowing but I don’t mind the snow. It is horrible when it is windy.”
It is only a minor thing. Unlikely to cause a breakdown in communication but there is an element of resistance there and this is not useful when you want someone to be on your side.
Better than using the word “but”, use “and” instead. Also use the phrases “I appreciate and…” “I agree and…”
Eg “I agree and at least it isn’t snowing!”
This will be accepted by them unconditionally and there will be no resistance at an unconscious level. Their unconscious mind hears “they agree with me.”
They may say “Yeah, I don’t mind the snow.” And they will still be on your side.
Another example of the Agreement Frame:
In a sales environment a potential buyer says. “I can’t see the point.”
The salesperson replies “But I have shown you how it will work for you.” Short of saying “Are you stupid or something!” the salesperson could not have been more objectionable. They might be trying to get the buyer to remember what they had done or said but it will not have come across that way. The buyers unconscious mind will have heard “Are you stupid or something! I’ve already shown you how it works.” The sale will be lost.
Better to reply. “I appreciate what you are saying and let me try to find out how I can better demonstrate the value to you in a way that you see what I am saying.” In this case the buyers unconscious mind hears, “this guy is really listening to me.”
The agreement frame is subtle and effective in maintaining rapport, which is what you need to get someone on your side, listening to you.
Summary of the Agreement Frame
Instead of using “But” (which negates the previous statement) use “And” which also keeps the communication moving forward.
Open your statement with
I agree and …
I appreciate and..
Refrain from using “I understand” as we are all operating from different “maps of the world” and you quite likely do not understand, although you can agree or appreciate.