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Argument Vs. Agreement

November 27, 2012

In How to Win Friends & Influence People Dale Carnegie wrote, “The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it” (1936, 1981).  In-depth studies on sales show that one of the most effective strategies used by successful sales people is “joining the opposition.” Great sales people almost never argue with prospects.  Instead, they first agree and then show the person the other side of the story (Molloy, 1981).  In Unlimited Power, Tony Robbins asks the question, What would happen if you had a communication tool you could use to communicate exactly how you felt about an issue, without compromising your integrity in any way, and yet you never had to disagree with the person either” (1986)?  Robbins goes on to share “The Agreement Frame” as the answer to this question.

According to Robbins, The Agreement Frame includes these three key phrases:

“I appreciate and…”

“I respect and…”

“I agree and….”

As you can see, each one calls you to take ownership by using the word “I”.  Each phrase allows you to be selective in your words. For example, I’ve found the phrase, “I respect and…” works well with assertive behavioral types, “I agree and…” works well with analytical types and “I appreciate and…” works wonders with amiable types.

The real key to this technique is using the word “and” instead of “but.”  “But” is a resistance word.  “And” is a pivotal word that allows you to move the other person from one side of an issue to the other without creating resistance or argument.   You don’t necessarily have to agree with the person’s point of view, but you can at least agree with their intent or acknowledge their feelings by using this technique.

I’ve been practicing The Agreement Frame for 25 years and have found it to be one of those little things that make a big difference in communication.  I’ve also discovered many other phrases along the way that work, such as:

“I see what you mean and…”

“I hear what you are saying and…”

“I understand what you are saying and…”

The final element for using this technique is being able to finish the statement in a way that makes sense, builds your case or shows the person the other side of the story.

For example, “I respect what you’re saying and, at the same time, we both know the policy and procedures call for specific steps which I think we will be better off following – don’t you?”


Carnegie, D. (1981). You Can’t Win An Argument. How to win friends and influence people (pp. 143-150 (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Molloy, J. T. (1981). Sales. Molloy’s live for success. (pp. 87-126) New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Robbins, A. (1986). How to handle resistance and solve problems. Unlimited power (pp. 242-243-252). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

From → Persuasion

One Comment
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