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“A no-nonsense approach to building your business through relationships.”

~ Jane Applegate, syndicated Los Angeles Times columnist

First Agreement – Then (And Only Then) Persuasion

September 24th, 2012 by Bob Burg

Hotel front deskHave you ever noticed that it’s nearly impossible to win an argument? That doesn’t mean you can’t persuade someone to move from their original view to your view.

It’s just that it probably won’t happen as a result of an argument. The reason is that, while in the “argument” stage, the person will probably be too busy “defending their turf” to be able to step back and understand why your view is the more reasonable one. Funny how that works, isn’t it? 🙂

The key is to first end the argument. How? By agreeing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to “sell out” to do this. However, there’s always something within what they say where you can find agreement, even if it’s just how they feel, or their right to have those feelings.

Example: You arrive at the hotel much earlier than the usual check-in time. The person at the front desk tells you that it’s against company policy for guests to check in before the regular time of 3:00. You could logically argue that, as long as a room has been cleaned, it shouldn’t be any big deal. But, that would cause the employee to admit he’s wrong. Most people have an ego that doesn’t enjoy that feeling.

Instead, agree with him: “Yes, I understand what you mean. It’s hotel policy and that needs to be respected. I can appreciate that.”

You didn’t argue with him. You agreed with him. Personally, I don’t imagine he’ll argue with that. What’s he going to say? “No, you’re wrong. I’m totally wrong about what I just told you.” 🙂 No, he’s going to feel good about you, because you agreed with him. He’s going to relax because he knows you are not being confrontational.

Now, you can help him to “live in the solution” with your suggestion: “You know, I’m wondering. Just if it’s not too much trouble, could you check to see if perhaps one of the rooms has already been cleaned? I think that’s probably the reason for the rule, which would make a lot of sense.” Then, as he’s checking, add what I call the “Eight Key Words” which are, “If you can’t do it, I’ll definitely understand.”

More than likely, you’ll get to check in early. I can tell you that from personal experience, and the experiences of those who do the same thing.

Remember, first agree. Then (and only then) persuade.


{Note from Bob: Do you study success, abundance and prosperity? If so, you’ll want to join my great friend, Randy Gage tonight at 9:00PM Eastern Time. He’ll be teaching on this very topic, taking some of the lessons from his upcoming book, Risky Is the New Safe, and showing you how to apply them now to improve your marketing, make you more valuable to employers, or start your own venture. The bridge can hold 2,000 people only, so I recommend you sign up now at http://www.randygage.com/ts/}

27 Responses to “First Agreement – Then (And Only Then) Persuasion”
  1. Linda Ryan said at 7:59 am on

    Wise words from a wise man. If I had a nickel for every time taking your advice (especially THIS piece of advice) has turned a situation around for me, well I would have enough nickels to buy you coffe AND a donut! Maybe two! Thanks Bob

  2. Well said, Bob. When we’re stuck in the muck (right vs. wrong), it’s nearly impossible to make any progress. What a great tool!

  3. This is the best piece of advice I ever learned from Bob. It has paid huge dividends. Thanks for reminding me and teaching others. I reccomend to anyone who has not used this before to give it a try. You will be amazed at the results.

  4. Bob Burg said at 8:10 am on

    Linda: That’s very sweet. Can we make it a Dunkin’ Coffee and Chocolate Coconut donut? Seriously, thank you for your always very kind words!

  5. Bob Burg said at 8:13 am on

    Steve: You painted an excellent visual of what can happen when it’s “right vs. wrong.” Truly stuck when that is the case! Fortunately, it only takes one person to make the decision to reframe and take the appropriate action. Thank you, my friend!

  6. Bob Burg said at 8:14 am on

    Denis: WOW – what a kind thing to say. Thank you so much! And, greatly looking forward to your new book coming out soon!

  7. Yes I love using your 8 words 😉 Wonder why we all forget to start on same place on the starting line by agreeing?

    I see it as way to allow us all to be dancing to the same song. It is ugly when one is doing waltz while other is breakdancing #justsayin’ 😉

    Here’s your coffee Bob ( always remember to give Bob his fav)

  8. Bob Burg said at 8:43 am on

    Michele: I love the way you put it. When we’re dancing to the same song…we’re all having a lot more fun! And, indeed, enjoying some Dunkin’ Coffee as we speak (or write). 😉

  9. Kumar Gauraw said at 10:04 am on

    Wow! Those “Eight Key Words” are awesome! I didn’t know that it has an exact name, but learnt this from your books and I have been successfully getting some solid results with this approach. Thanks for yet another reminder, Bob! You are awesome!

  10. Bob Burg said at 10:18 am on

    Kumar: That’s a WOW from me to you for your terrific and very kind feedback. Thank you so much!

  11. Lene Jytte Hansen said at 11:32 am on

    GREAT point Bob!!! I agree with you on this one. It’s very important to make the person feel “right” enough to be able to afford to transgress policy or oppinions. LOVE your article 🙂
    (joining Randy Gage tonight on this call 😀 you mentioned).

  12. Bob Burg said at 11:40 am on

    Lene: Thank you. I love how you put it, making them “right” enough to be able to…

    And, it’s not that we necessarily want them to “transgress policy” as much as not let guidelines keep them from using their heads and thinking things through. Policies are (at least in theory) designed to serve the customer, not displease them.

    Yes, tonight’s prosperity call with Randy should be terrific!

  13. Lene Jytte Hansen said at 11:52 am on

    Right Bob, I get your meaning – true!!!! not blindly following policy, but thinking for yourself 😀

  14. Sean said at 12:12 pm on

    Great post Bob! Amazing how we so often block cooperation by not being sensitive to these little moments/opportunities. The choice seems to be: we can choose to create a moment of connection and cooperation, OR disconnection and resistance. We seem to so often default to the latter when faced with a problem or situation. I think it’s some unfortunate early programming we get from parents and peers, that the only way to get satisfaction in these situations is through force/anger/manipulation/posturing…and that if you don’t utilize these “stronger” methods, you’ll get taken advantage of/pushed around. I had a situation a few weeks back at the W in New Orleans. We had paid far in advance for a room with a king bed, but when we arrived it was two doubles. When we went back down to the front desk, we were informed that there were no kings available. I old sense that I was at the emotional crossroads! Lol. I noticed myself getting angry and ready for a major confrontation, BUT, I took a breath, relaxed and regrouped, and remembered your advice about creating the expectation of cooperation. So I shifted my approach, released all the tension, and shared some understanding for the challenge of the gentleman at the front desk (this was just a week after hurricane Isaak, so things were a bit out of sorts). The upshot? We not only got the room, but we made a great friend in this front desk gentleman, and he helped us in so many other amazing ways to have a spectacular stay! Next time we visit (which willl be soon!), we will have ths awesome friend to insure everything is awesome…and we’ll get to reconnect with him again. Small shifts in mind-set and approach yield giant results! And honestly, this is about much more than simply gaining a satisfactory outcome, it’s far more about finding ways to interact with other human beings in a positive and mutually beneficial/enjoyable fashion. And for that piece of awesome insight, I extend a giant thank you to you Bob! I’m so happy to have you on my life coaching team!

  15. Bob Burg said at 12:15 pm on

    Sean: What a great letter and terrific story about combining your true authentic win/win nature with the right attitude, words and action. I love it! Way to go!!

  16. Bob, this advice is right on target–no surprise, since it comes from you. I have posted it on my Social Media sites, because I know it will be helpful to everyone who reads it.

  17. Bob,

    Those 8 words sure are magic. I can see how they would turn the person from being coerced to break the rules to being interested in helping a nice person out.

    I’m listening to Winning without Intimidation and one thing I hear running through it is that being nice doesn’t make you soft. Instead I think it makes you effective and a pleasure to be around. Thanks for sharing this post today.

  18. I so totally can’t relate to this post. I always win arguments and the more heated the better.

    Right! So not true.

    Great reminder that the first step to a resolution is by getting the other person to relax and be open to a solution.

    The trick is in the split second (or less) between reaction or response; and what decision you make in that time.

    Thanks Bob.

  19. The point is to Let the person feel like they are being heard and to actually LISTEN and to give them permission to having their own personal opinion and then in doing that they are MUCH more OPEN to be able to hear what you are saying hence persuasion without bullying and arguing etc… and this usually arrives at a beautiful outcome for all parties involved…

  20. Bob Burg said at 8:57 pm on

    Dr. Bill: Coming from you, that comment is very special, as you are one of the very best communicators I’ve ever met. Thank you so much!

  21. Bob Burg said at 9:02 pm on

    Michael: Thank you. I so appreciate that. Your phrase, “being nice doesn’t make you soft” is one of the major points I like people to understand. Thank you, my friend. Looking forward to our upcoming event in the Bay Area.

  22. Bob Burg said at 9:04 pm on

    Doug: Powerful commentary, my friend. The 3rd and 4th paragraphs you wrote could be posts in and of themselves. Thanks again!

  23. Bob Burg said at 9:06 pm on

    Carly: Beautifully said, my friend. Terrific!

  24. Geetha said at 2:04 am on

    Dear Bob,

    Thanks a million for your “Eight Key Words”: “If you can’t do it, I’ll definitely understand.”

    A great lesson in persuasion à la Mahatma Gandhi in those eight words!

    Thanks and regards,


  25. Bob Burg said at 7:52 am on

    Geetha: My pleasure and thank YOU. What a great compliment that is!

  26. I love that phrase “live the solution” and I like Sean’s comment on relaxing. Our body language says so much that if it isn’t in line with our words we are sending mixed messages. To me taking that breathe is so important and releasing tension from my body before I speak helps me to better say what I need to say, and it puts me in a better frame of mind.

  27. Bob Burg said at 11:11 am on

    Christie: Right on, everything you wrote! And, yes, our words and body language definitely need to be alignment. Great point!

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