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Agreement frame

thumbs-upThe fourth indicator of rapport is our ability to pace and lead the person we are communicating with.

The agreement frame is a linguistic tool that we can use to verbally pace the person we are communicating with and then lead them to where we want the communication to go.

The agreement frame takes one of the following forms:-

For the purposes of our illustrative example let's consider an imaginary communication between two characters - A and B.

A says: We've got so much work to do to complete this project. We're going to have to work late to get everything finished on time.

B says: I understand how you feel, but I've had enough for one day and I'd much rather go home now and finish things up tomorrow.

For the purposes of our example we're going to assume that A's response to B's disagreement is to feel displeased (remember - the meaning of your communication is the response that you get).

B could have elegantly achieved his desired outcome - going home for the day - in such a way that A was more likely to feel agreeable, simply by wrapping an agreement frame around his disagreement as in the following example:-

A says: We've got so much work to do to complete this project. We're going to have to work late to get everything finished on time.

B says: I agree that we have a lot to do, and I think that if we go home now and recharge our batteries we'll finish the job in half the time tomorrow.

Let's look at some of the fundamental differences between the two examples.

In the first example B may as well have said 'I understand how you feel , but my wants and needs are more important than anything else and I'm going home'.

In the second example B uses one of the agreement frame forms mentioned above - I agree........and........

Firstly B avoids claiming to understand A. The fact is that as B's model of the world differs from A's model, B could never truly understand A.

Claiming to understand another person whilst at the same time holding a belief or opinion which differs from theirs is like to result in a polarity response in that person i.e. in this case the polarity response is likely to be no - you don't understand!

Thus by avoiding claiming to understand A, B presents less opportunity for resistance and avoids the polarity response.

By agreeing with part of A's communication B begins to pace A by acknowledging A's model of the world.

In the second example B the continues to pace A by replacing but with the and part of the agreement frame.

Linguistically the word but is known as a negation operator. Used in a sentence the word but negates everything that comes before it.

In this regard but is a very powerful word. Ever been on the receving end of a stream of positive communication and thought to yourself 'wait for the but...wait for the but...'? When the but comes along it negates all the positive aspects of the communication and we're left with the negative.

The agreement frame wraps neatly around any negative in such a way that overall the communication is received in a positive light.

So far B's second communication has two pacing elements - I agree + and.

The final element of the agreement frame switches to leading the person we are communicating with in the direction of our desired outcome i.e.

Where X is our desired outcome.

On the following pages we'll examine some of the other tools we can add to our linguistic toolbox to boost our inter-personal communication skills further still.

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