Agreement Isn’t The Point

Danny Silk

Some people think that talking is communicating. But talking is not communicating unless it has a goal, a purpose.

Most often in communication, the goal is agreement. But if our goal is agreement, then what happens when we disagree? I must persuade you to agree with me, or vice versa. But unfortunately, persuasion has a way of slipping into pressure, manipulation, and control.

The priority of agreement demands that there really can’t be two different people in the conversation—there can only be one. The longer you refuse to respond to my efforts to convince you to agree with me, the more anxiety grows in the conversation. Before long, the battle lines are drawn and we are allowing our need to be right to overtake our need to protect our connection.

The conversation becomes a fight over which one of us has the right perception, the right answer, or the right decision.

If we are not careful, it will be only a matter of time before one of us introduces some kind of “relationship killer” to the conversation. A relationship killer is a message that invalidates or disqualifies one person’s thoughts, feelings, or needs in some way. It most often happens when someone mentions his or her feelings and the other person responds:

“Well, that’s not logical. You can’t be right because you just have a feeling. We can’t measure your feelings. We have to present things logically. Your ‘feeling’ doesn’t even make sense. My perspective, on the other hand, has all the qualifiers to be valuable.” The underlying message, although unintended, is, “I am valuable and you are not.” When people start devaluing one another’s thoughts, feelings, or needs in some way, they are attacking their connection like a pack of wolves.

If we want to keep two powerful people involved and connected in a conversation, the first goal must be to understand.

If connection is the priority, then the goal of communication cannot be agreement, because then one person has to disappear when there is disagreement. And guess what? People do not always agree.

The person whose goal is to understand says, “I want to understand your unique perspective and experience. I want to understand the truth of what is happening inside you. And I want you to understand the same things about me. If I understand your heart, then I can move toward you in ways that build our connection. I can respond to your thoughts, respect your feelings, and help to meet your needs.”

The results of this conversation are going to be radically different from the one whose goal was agreement alone. Pursuing the goal of understanding will help you progress through increasingly deeper levels of honesty in order to build true intimacy and trust in a relationship.

PS) This is Hack #2 in my latest eBook, Communication Hacks: 3 Ways to Cultivate Healthy Communication at Home or Work. Download it free for a limited time here.

PPS) As always I would love to hear your thoughts below

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  1. Thank you Danny<3
    Yes this is very Good and a good way to ensure success in "keeping our love on", ( as you would say, in all our relationships:-)
    Thank you for this wonderful encouragement and God given insight, that you Bless so many of us with. <3
    With many thanks
    Deborah K

  2. Wow this is a total new concept to me! Thank you so much for renewing my mind on this! So good! I have a 13 years old who has been saying that I don’t understand him and I feel I connection has been a little bit broken! I definitely will start to use this knowledge and I’m praying things will start to change!! Thanks again! I would love to know when will you hold a conference for parents of Teen!???

  3. In raising my kids it seems that the biggest job is helping them understand themselves and develop the tools to express it well. The question,"Why are you angry with your sister?" beingfollowed with "I don’t know" usually means we are in for a chat as we try to connect to the heart of what is really going on and not just the behaviour. Understanding their hearts is such a bigger job than just reacting to behaviours, but oh so worth it.

  4. Really like this. Thank you so much Danny. I think what really struck me by this different approach to conversation, understanding the other person in my opinion forces you to LISTEN and as you say respect and honor the other individual. Agreement in my opinion can be achieved a lot times, especially with someone you know well i.e. a spouse or child by knowing which gesture’s or mannerism’s will make them ‘happy.’ Thus causing us to be in ‘agreement.’ Understanding causes you to connect. Any hoo, that’s my 2 cents worth. 🙂

  5. How helpful! My husband and I ‘talk’ all the time, but not with this clear purpose. What a helpful explanation of how to make our communication more constructive. Thank you!

  6. That is really great. Some of us are well aware of those issues. The challenge comes when you are in a relationship with someone whom doesn’t understand this concept and just wants their own way. It does take two – it really is about being known and knowing others deeply. Not about agreement.

  7. Very good. The need to be right keeps us locked up in our own safety zones–it keeps us protected(in our minds) and keeps others out. We only let them in when they agree. We tend to pressure people to agree with us and keep us feeling good about our opinions and beliefs. We can’t grow in this toxic environment. I find that truly listening, without judgment and editorializing, is a great challenge that always requires work and ultimately, vulnerability. Thanks.

  8. Excellent advice esp in personal relationships. Struggling to quite get this is a business set up esp with men who often do want "decisions/goals" set and don’t have time to get deep into "hearing the heart" of another’s opinion!. Wd be so good to see a role model example played out so I could see how it works in a real life example

  9. Sandy, the ‘work force’ model is more around the concept of feedback rather than deep connection. The idea here is becoming a master in allow another co-worker to know how you experience them as a team member. "Let me tell you how I feel after an interaction with you"

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