I once heard someone remark, “I always say 'I could not agree more,' even if I wholeheartedly disagree because whether I completely agree or completely disagree I could not agree more!"
I want to introduce you to the Agreement Frame.
The Agreement Frame appeals to your prospects on an emotional level. Your prospect, to coin a phrase, “will not see it coming,” and because of this it's often referred to as the Aikido pattern. In Aikido the movement of the attacker is used against them!
Think about these questions for a moment:
- How did you feel on the last occasion someone agreed with your point of view?
- How did you feel about the person agreeing with you?
- What often occurs conversationally when you agree with someone?
Now consider these questions
- How do you feel when someone disagrees with you?
- How do you feel about the person disagreeing with you?
- What occurs conversationally when someone disagrees with you?
When others disagree with us, very often, we are immediately on our guard, and as we persevere to make our point the conversation may become more clinical.
Occasionally, depending on the context, it may cease altogether: how often have you heard or said yourself, “we will have to agree to disagree on that point."
How did you feel when one of your colleagues agreed with something you said?
We like it when others agree with us, don't we? It is human nature. Have you ever noticed once you say to someone, “I agree,” or "You are right," that instinctively they continue speaking and offering more information? This happens because they have not detected any resistance to their point of view.
A useful technique that lowers resistance and builds rapport with anyone is to agree or at least “appear” to agree with them.
If the person with whom you are engaging is not expecting your agreement you have knocked the wind out of their sales, and their resistance to what you are about to say is considerably lowered, hence the earlier Aikido analogy.
How to agree with the disagreeable
Without being entirely unethical, we do not even have to subscribe wholly to our prospect's viewpoint when we use the agreement frame. Should something be said that you really cannot accept under any circumstances you may respond with:
- I agree with part of what you’ve said and…
- It is possible at some point I might agree with what you’ve said and…
- I agree you said that and…
- I almost agree with that and…
By intentionally using this pattern, you have chosen to agree with your prospect to purposefully increase their responsiveness. You will appear aligned to their way of thinking. They will sense this and, as you notice their resistance lowering, you assume control of the conversation and steer it towards your goal.
Review the following statements:
Prospect's statement: "We do not need this now."
Respond with: " I agree. You’re right. It is entirely possible. You don’t need this now and…"
Prospect's statement: "It is not really what we want."
Respond with: "I agree you have said that and..."
Prospect's statement: "It's just too expensive."
Respond with: "Yes, you are right. I agree. It has a higher value on the market and…"
Prospect's statement: "I have not got time."
Respond with: "I agree time is precious and…
"I imagine you thinking how incomprehensible it is to agree with these objections and, guess what?
I agree you might believe that, and that is why everything will become clear as we further examine the structure of the response.
The Agreement Frame pattern structure:
- Agreement Statement + and + Linking phrase + Redirect the conversation to the subject of your choice.
The agreement statement can be whatever fits with your usual style of communication.
Here are some examples:
- I agree you are right and…
- I agree and…
- I recognise the value of what you have said and…
- I appreciate your stance and…
- Maybe you’re right and…
- Your right and…
- I could not have said that better myself and…
- You took the words right out of my mouth and…
- I agree you might think/have thought that and…
You will notice the agreement phrase is separated from the linking phrase by the word “and,” this is essential because if you accidentally say “but” you will effectively negate the agreement.
Removing “but” from your conversations can take a little practice as all too often we use it without conscious thought, and even less consideration is given to its impact on the listener both consciously and subconsciously.
The Linking Phrase
The next stage is the connecting phrase.
Choose the one that best fits your conversation from this list:
- and... I’d like to add
- and... this means that
- and... I would add / I’d add
- and... that means this
- and... that's why/ that is why
Use one of these linking phrases to lead your conversation towards stage three, returning or progressing the discussion towards your objective smoothly.
How to reinforce a sense of agreement
One of the most powerful and little-taught techniques to reinforce agreement is to incorporate body language into your presentations and conversations proactively. Look your prospect in the eyes and, while stating your agreement phrase, slowly nod your head three times.
This further deepens rapport and shows your prospect you are on their side.
Finally, start to actively listen to political debates on the radio or television and notice how often professional politicians use agreement to lead the interview towards the specific areas they wish to discuss. Imagine the benefits will you enjoy when you start to use this technique every day.