People Management - Agreeing with People Without Compromising Your Principles

I heard a story recently about a General during the French revolution. During that time there was an outbreak of protests and demonstrations against the French rule. Some of these were peaceful but the vast majority of them were not.

In the midst of one particularly rowdy demonstration the French general in question was ordered by his superior officer to re-gain control by quote ‘Shooting the rif-raf’. Now because the general was an intelligent, well meaning man, he did not want to resort to violence and start shooting people.

So in order to carry out his orders in a safe and effective manner, he walked up to the edge of a balcony that overlooked the demonstration and said:

“People of France, I have orders here to shoot the rif-raf. However I notice that, in amongst the riff-raff, there appears to be some well meaning citizens. Could all the well meaning citizens please move to the side so we can get a clear shot of the riff-raff.”

Within minutes the street was clear…

What the general did was something extremely clever. He managed to package his message in such a way that allowed him to get the job done, while at the same time, stay true to what he believed.

This art of ‘people management’ is a vital skill in this day and age. Some people decide that the only way to get on with people is to compromise their values and principles by consistently changing like some social chameleon every time they meet someone new. Of course being able to change the way you behave from person to person is obviously useful and required in this day and age but to compromise the things that you hold sacred and make you unique is a step to far.

So what if there was a way to agree with what someone is saying without compromising your principles and what you believe as a person?

That would be useful wouldn’t it?

Well that’s where the agreement frame comes in. It is essentially a way of creating a sense of openness and agreement with someone while, at the same time, staying true with your values, beliefs and principles.

Step 1. Acknowledging the Person's World View

The first step is to acknowledge the person’s world view no matter how different it may seem to you. Now you’ll notice I said ‘acknowledge’ not ‘agree’. Essentially what you are doing in this stage is accepting that what they have said is absolutely true for them but not necessarily for you. That way your own opinion on the matter stays uncompromised.

So how do you do that…The following phrases are a good start:

  • Yes, I understand where you are coming from...
  • Yes, I appreciate where you are coming from...
  • Yes, I appreciate that is the case for you...
  • Yes I know that can often be the case for some people...

By using phrases such as these you will see that you are agreeing with them while, at the same time, keeping the integrity of your own opinion in tact.

Step 2. Provide a cushion

The next step is to provide a cushion. The cushion acts as a platform that can be used to start introducing your own ideas on the subject you are talking about. The key at this stage is to avoid using the word 'but' and use the word 'and' instead. The word but essentially negates whatever you have said before it whereas the word and compliments and adds to it. Here are a couple of examples of good cushion statements you can use along with the acknowledging part:

Yes I appreciate where you are coming from and I know that a lot of people probably think the same

Yes I appreciate what you are saying and I’m sure that’s the case for a lot of people

By acknowledging that what they are saying is absolutely true for them and then providing a cushion, you have created the ideal environment to begin to introduce your own opinion on the subject.

Step 3. Introduce Your own Opinion

So now it’s time to introduce your own opinion. Again avoid using the word but, that could destroy the good work you’ve done. Stick to either using and or other, softer phrases like ‘at the same time’ or ‘I’m curious about something though’ ‘One of the things I’ve also found is’ Here are a few examples of the full agreement frame to get you started:

Yes I appreciate where you’re coming from and I know that a lot of people probably think the same and that leads me to ask the question, have you ever thought about it this way

Yes I appreciate what you are saying and I’m sure that’s the case for a lot of people. One of the things I’ve also found is that

Yes I know that can often be true for people and I’m sure you’re not the only one who thinks that. At the same time I’m curious if you’ve ever thought about it this way

Summarize

So to summarize, a frame of agreement is a way of accepting a person’s world view while, at the same time, staying true to what you believe and then subtly introducing your own opinion on the subject.

The three steps to a frame of agreement are:

  1. Acknowledge that what the person says is absolutely true for them.
  2. Use the word and to provide a cushion.
  3. Begin to subtly introduce your own opinion.

To find out more about how you can become a masterful conversationalist and turbo charge you levels of confidence around people check out the Guide to Social Confidence Virtual Boot Camp.

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