by Kurt Larsson
Many people have ideas about what agreement is, but very few of
them seem to agree. How often have you heard or said the following words
“but I thought we had an agreement?!” If you were forced to utter that
phrase with regards to an agreement, chances are what you had was
What do you mean when you say “I agree”? According to Chambers Dictionary of
Etymology, the word “agree” comes from the Latin ad meaning "to" and gratum meaning "pleasing" or “to please”.
A lot of agreements seem to fit just
that mould. This definition seems to focus on saying something in order to
please the listener. Note, though, that it speaks nothing about carrying
out what was agreed.
Is your intention to satisfy or be polite? When you make anagreement, is it your intention
fully carry it out and satisfy the other party, or is just it to be polite and try?
at least agree that we won’t know until the task is either carried out or not? We
maybe able to shed some light on this “be polite” or “satisfy” thing by
taking a closer look at our body language.
Please test the following on yourself. Check your breathing when you clinch an agreement. When you agree to satisfy, verify whether you are exhaling. In other words, are you breathing out when you utter that famous line, “I agree”?
On the other hand, check whether you are inhaling, sometimes very nervously and quickly, whenever you agree to be “polite”.
"Satisfy" implies being whole or complete. Body workers testify
that the best healing takes place in you body when breathing out. This becomes
interesting in the context of agreeing in order to satisfy, since “healing”
literally means "to make whole" - to produce a state where nothing is
missing but everything is complete.
Think of the stillness of a pond at dusk.
What if we could train ourselves to make agreements with that same quality?
What could agreeing like that do to our ability to relate?
Fulfilled agreements, of course, are the cornerstones of trust and sound relationships.
One step closer...
any sales process or cycle, there are building blocks that take you
methodically from one step to the next. With each step you also increase
the probability that you will sell something. It means that you and the
buyer are one step closer to trading something with equal value. It also
means you have at least minimized the risk of being betrayed and
hopefully can even trust each other a bit more.
As much as we have tested it, a balanced agreement seems to be the
focal point of moving from one step to the next. According to what we
have found so far there seems to be a link between the number of agreements
you and your prospect have identified and the trust you have created.
each "yes", nod of the head and/or handshake, the probability that you
will eventually sell something increases.
More agreements mean more room to dance. When we say "agreements", we
are not just talking about the big ones, we mean each one that moves you
forward in the cycle or creates more trust in your relationship. It
could be as simple as agreeing on how much time your meeting is going to take
or that it is sunny outside.
It may be easier to picture agreements as individual bricks, bricks
in a dance floor. The more bricks you have placed in your floor, the more
room you have to dance with your partner. Doesn’t this resemble a sales
The more agreements you have with your potential
clients the more “dance floor” you have to work out together issues where you don’t
agree. Time and time again I have noticed that the more agreements
you have confirmed with the person you are doing business with, the less you
have to worry about the ultimate "No thank you".
I did some work with some financial traders at a large international
bank a number of years ago and they had an interesting problem.
made multimillion dollar foreign exchange and interest deals using sometimes
four or five words. Their stated challenge was how to make them in three
or four instead. Upon recovering from the shock of this tall order, I
encouraged them to pay close attention to both their clients breathing
and their own.
Sure enough, it turned out that when the decision to do the
transaction was consciously, even effortlessly made on the out breath the more sound
the deal was. Ending on the outbreath contributed to a more cooperative
relationship and it meant much less was needed to be said afterward.
three, four or five words was, for the most part, an exaggeration; but
the point was that the quality of the agreements increased just from paying
attention to some normally neglected information. What they agreed upon
I have since tested this tool on at least one hundred other groups
and the evidence is that the quality of their agreements increased in direct
proportion to how much each participant was willing to breathe and to
Not surprisingly, the more self conscious or
embarrassed they felt observing other people breathing the more their
results stayed the same. It is a lot like comparing two dance partners.
How enjoyable is it dancing with someone focused on how embarrassing it is
to dance, compared to one that is enjoying the experience and breathing in a
The more the participants were open to observing breathing as a
service to both themselves and their clients, the better their agreements
Agreement means nothing left to say, done! Next subject.
Notice the correlation between satisfaction and not having to talk
further. Picture that calm pond at sunset again. What if an agreement
that sticks has that same quality? The silence says it all doesn’t it? To add
anything to the agreement after that would be like trying to calm the
water further by throwing something else into it.
Agreement is the result after all the reasons, justifications and
excuses have been handled and there is nothing else to say but "yes."
Agreements that stick become easier to accomplish when you train
yourself to observe how much or how little still needs to be said.
Stop being polite!
Stop being polite! Practice agreeing to satisfy. Some tips to improve
your ability to agree:
- Observe how often you agree just to be polite compared to agreeing
with the intention to satisfy. What would be the benefit of just saying
“no thank you” directly?
- Notice the correlation between agreements that stick and personal
- Check how easily you are breathing and whether you are agreeing on
the in or out breath.
- Note the quality and flexibility of your relationships compared
with your (and your listener's) ease of breathing.
- See if your quality of life improves in relationship to the more
importance you place on agreeing to satisfy.
With a little practice you too will become an agreement fanatic and a
master of creating "agreements that stick"!
What could our world look like then?
Kurt Larsson is an organisational trouble-shooter and coach,
dealing decisively with the human issues of stress, ethics and relationships in
the workplace. View his Author Profile or visit his site at http://www.expandingu.biz
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