Preparation is the key to finding agreement

“It’s easy to find reasons for division between people; finding common ground is harder, but a step towards happiness.” (Unknown)

I will admit to you that this next principle sometimes gives me fits. It isn’t that I am unclear on the concept, I understand the concept of getting momentum toward an agreement. And, I have used the construct many times when delivering a formal talk. Where I struggle is in applying the principle in an organic conversation, without it seeming contrived.

The concept is to get people saying “yes, yes” quickly, in order to help win them to my way of thinking. As I have been writing this series, this particular principle has been much on my mind. Today, I think I have crystallized the concept in my own head.

For me the importance of this principle isn’t in the mechanical application where I come up with statements just to get the other person saying yes. What is important is coming up with real, meaningful, common ground between myself and the other person. That, to me, is the gold of this principle.

In order for me to get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately, I have to have done my homework. I have to know what is important to the other person, and what is important to me. I have to distill the facts and find those points where we agree, so that I can separate them from those where we disagree. In taking the time to do this, I am not simply looking for the mechanical answers, but I am genuinely seeking the common ground between us.

The truth is that in most situations where I am in a disagreement with someone, there are far more things that the other person and I agree on, than those on which we disagree. When I take the time to understand those things, I am not only preparing for the conversation, but I am also conditioning my own mind to see the other person not as an adversary, but as a colleague with whom I have only a minor disagreement. This process of preparation puts my mind in the direction of agreement, rather than focusing on the disagreement.

When I do approach the other person, if I have done my homework well, I come armed with a lengthy list of things on which we agree. I can lay those out, and help the other person to see them as well. Once I have done that, and we are down a path of agreement, it is much easier to bring up the topic where we disagree.

The more I think about this principle the more that, for me, it is about preparing my own mind for agreement with the other person.

When you have a difficult topic to discuss with someone, one where you know there is disagreement, here is my suggestion. Take the time to consider all of the areas involved in the issue where you agree with the other person, and note them. Be ready to list them for the other person. In that way, you will be applying this principle with genuineness and sincerity.

Principle 14 – Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.

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