Thursday, August 7, 2008

Agree, Build and Compare

What do you do when you disagree with another person’s stories or facts?    In Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler write about using your ABCs to agree, build and compare your views when you disagree with the other peron's facts or stories.

Remember Your ABCs 
Remember you’re ABCs:

  • Agree – agree when you agree.
  • Build – build when others leave out key pieces.
  • Compare – compare when you differ.

While you need to work through disagreements, start with an area of agreement.  Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler  write:

So here’s the take-away.  If you completely agree with the other person’s path, say so and move on.  Agree when you agree.  Don’t turn an agreement into an argument.

If you agree with what’s been said but the information is incomplete, Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest building:

On the other hand, when you watch people who are skilled in dialogue, it becomes clear that they’re not playing this everyday game of Trivial Pursuit – looking for trivial differences and then proclaiming them aloud.  In fact, they’re looking for points of agreement.  As a result, they’ll often start with the words “I agree.”  Then they talk about the part they agree with.  At least, that’s where they start.

When you differ significantly, don’t suggest others are wrong.  Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler suggest comparing your two views:

Finally, if you do disagree, compare your path with the other person’s.  That is, rather than suggesting that he or she is wrong, suggest that you differ.  He or she may, in fact, be wrong, but you don’t know for sure until you hear both sides of the story.  For now, you just know that the two of you differ.  So instead of pronouncing “Wrong!” start with a tentative but candid opening such as “I think I see things differently.  Let me describe how.”

Key Take Aways
Here’s my key take aways:

  • Agree when you agree.  State what you agree with.  This helps build rapport.
  • Build on what you agree with.   Start with what you agree with to build momentum.  Don’t focus on trivial flaws and blow them out of proportion.
  • Compare your views rather than state others are wrong.  To stay connected, get curious on how you see things differently.

My Related Posts