To build an agreement frame and get someone to say yes, it’s important to move in small steps that allow them to feel safe and in-control. Start with things like using their name, the words you and because, smiling and nodding, and reminding them that they are free to choose. Ask them for something small early on, then ask for progressively bigger things over time. Anything we do that they can agree with will make it easier for them to agree to bigger things.
One of the most important skills we can have in life is the ability to get other people to say yes. This is especially true when we’re a hypnotist or a coach, since our entire job is literally convincing people to take on the new reality that they want, and helping them to get there.
When done well, agreement leads to rapport and compliance, both of which are helpful for productive sessions.
It’s important to be aware that agreement is a two-way thing. This means that you can help people become more likely to say yes both by agreeing with them, and by getting them to agree with you.
Work through these tips one at a time, adding them into your conversations and sessions. I find that I get the best results when I take the time to make each new thing I learn into a habit so that it starts happening automatically.
Here’s 20 simple things you can do to build agreement frames and get people to say yes.
1. Fit in with someone’s emotional state
Have you ever had a conversation with someone that you normally get on well with, but this time it was just hard work?
Of course you have!
This usually happens when our emotional states don’t match.
To give an example, when we’re feeling low on energy, it can be overwhelming if someone comes at us full on and excited.
The very first step when we want to get someone to say yes is to place ourselves into an emotional state that fits in with their own. We want to be congruent.
This does not mean we have to take on the exact same state. There are lots of states that fit together well. If they’re excited, it might be enough for us to be happy. If they’re sad, we can be caring.
The ability to control your own state is known as state control.
Improved state control is one of the benefits that you can get when you learn self-hypnosis. If you’d like to know how to do self-hypnosis, be sure to check out my article on How to Hypnotize Yourself Instantly.
2. Exude confidence to help people feel good about saying yes
Studies by Albert Mehrabian have shown that only about 7% of communication is contained within the words we speak. The other 93% is covered by our body language and voice tone.
Now these figures are probably not exactly right in most communication settings. Regardless of the actual numbers, body language and voice tone are far more important than our words.
It really is true that how we say something is far more important than what we say.
This means that if we want to convince someone to say yes, it is of vital importance that we appear confident in our communications. I go over a simple way to do that in my article on How to Use Self-Hypnosis to Exude Confidence.
If you’re not confident about your own confidence, go and check it out.
3. Start building an agreement frame by smiling and nodding
The unconscious signals that we send are important.
In the Western world, smiling and nodding are generally used to indicate agreement.
So if you’d like someone to agree with you, make a habit of smiling and nodding only at appropriate times.
Whatever you do, make sure it’s a genuine smile. Allow yourself to think of something that makes you smile, then hold that thought in the back of your mind while you talk.
This will cause them to partially follow along.
You get bonus points if the thing that makes you smile is of great benefit to the person you’d like to convince to say yes.
And in the event that you live somewhere where your agreement mannerisms are different to smiling and nodding, make sure you use your local variant instead.
4. Build on your agreement frame by using someone’s name
People’s names are directly attached to their identities.
Which means that it’s essentially impossible for someone to disagree with their own name.
This is true even when it’s a name that they’ve made up for a specific purpose, such as inside an online game or chat service.
When someone tells you their name, start using it throughout your communication with them.
Rely on your instincts to tell you when you’ve used it too much. This is obvious to most people, and so long as it doesn’t feel like you’re using their name too much, you’re probably not.
Get the balance right and each time you use their name is like a little spike of agreement. By itself, it won’t do much. But combined with the other things in this list, names can make it easier to convince someone to say yes.
5. The power of You
The English language has some very powerful words in it.
Following closely behind someone’s name is the word you.
When we use the word you in a positive way, it helps the person to feel good about themselves. And guess what! Since it’s you that’s helping them to feel good, they will attach those feelings to you.
People find it much easier to agree with someone they think positively about.
Back in the 1970s, psychologist Ellen Langer ran a study in which a member of her team would attempt to politely cut in front of people waiting in a queue at a copy machine.
In doing so, it was discovered that simply adding the word because to the end of the request to cut in line, along with a reason, increased compliance from about 60% to over 90%.
Not only that, but they discovered that the reason didn’t even have to make sense. The increase in compliance still happened even when the reason was something like because I have to make some copies.
The word because is magic.
Now I have no idea what this is about, but my suspicion is that people hear the word because and switch off, confident in the knowledge that there is a reason.
When you are building agreement, adding the word because and a reason to the end of a request, can increase compliance by around 50%.
Not bad for just one word.
7. People say yes more when they know it is optional
As a rule, people don’t like to be told what to do and they don’t like to feel pressured.
This can be inoculated against by reminding them that it’s their decision.
When we do this in the right way, people tend to be more inclined to do what we’re asking them to do.
Simply put, people are more likely to be convinced to say yes when we also remind them that they are free to say no.
Actively remind people that they can also say no and you can potentially double your chances they will say yes.
8. Give first to get people to say yes
Have you ever been unexpectedly given a gift and felt awkward?
This happens to most people at some point in their lives.
In fact, it happens disturbingly often to most of us.
The awkwardness comes about because we like to feel a sense of balance and fairness. So when someone unexpectedly gives us a gift, we have no way to reciprocate.
It leaves us feeling a little unbalanced.
And we can use it to help convince people to say yes.
All we have to do is give them something, and they will feel compelled to give us something in return.
It doesn’t even have to be anything big. When we smile at them, we’re giving them a gift. Usually they will smile back because they’ll feel unbalanced if they don’t.
Think about what you can give the person you’d like to convince to say yes, then give it to them.
9. Tell a story to provide social proof
When we want to convince people to say yes, quite often they will need some evidence to get there.
Basically, they want to know that whatever they’re agreeing to has worked for someone else.
But there’s an interesting thing about the unconscious mind. It can’t really tell the difference between real and imagined things very well at all.
This means that if we want to get someone to say yes, we can provide the evidence they need by telling them a story about someone who agreed.
And it’s even better than that.
There’s another word of great power we can use: imagine.
Tell them to imagine, then paint a picture of how great things will be when they say yes.
Do this before you even make the offer you want someone to say yes to. That way, when you make the offer, they will already have the framework in place to support their decision to say yes.
10. Ask for something small to get people to say yes
Most people will agree to tiny things when we ask them.
Do you have the time? Could you grab that item from the top shelf for me please?
It takes almost none of our time, and since people generally like to feel helpful, we’ll usually just do whatever it is.
And there’s an interesting effect that happens. Once someone does something small for us, they will be more inclined to do something bigger.
Ask for something small early on in the conversation and gradually scale up to bigger things to prime people to say yes.
This is known as the yes set in hypnosis and the yes ladder in sales.
11. Ask for someone’s opinion to get them to say yes
People love to give their opinion.
Usually on just about anything that might come up.
And when we ask for their opinion about something they care about, something important happens. They start to feel like we value them. So long as we don’t directly contradict what they say, they’ll start to feel like we’re agreeing with them. And by extension, them with us.
Convince someone to say yes by asking for their opinion on various small things throughout your conversation. Be sure to not disagree with whatever their opinion might be.
The more questions you ask people about things that are important to them, and the more you validate their answers, the more they will feel like you are agreeing with them. Since agreement is bi-directional, this makes them more likely to say yes.
12. Get people to do something physical
Have you ever wondered why stage hypnotists have their volunteers do a bunch of stuff before they ever claim to start hypnotizing them?
Who would like to come up on the stage and be hypnotized? Can I get you to move over here just a little. That left foot a little further out… yep… just like that.
When we ask people to do something physical, a lot of the time they won’t even think about objecting. This builds several things in their mind: Agreement, our authority, and compliance.
Have people make tiny physical movements to get them used to doing what you tell them to do.
And because they are physical movements, most people won’t perceive them as agreement. Nevertheless, the effect is the same: They become more likely to agree when we want to convince them to say yes.
13. Use someone’s exact words
A lot of communication skills courses teach us to listen actively.
In active listening, we pay attention to what someone’s saying, and then paraphrase it back to them.
The idea is that when we do this, it tells them that we understood what they said.
Unfortunately, that’s a logical argument. And the truth is that minds don’t run on logic.
When we want someone to agree with us, the primary thing that will make that happen is us doing things that match patterns already inside their mind.
Repeat someone’s exact words back to them to make them feel like they agree with you. Avoid looking like you are mimicking them by choosing only a few key words when you do this.
Do not change even the tense of the verbs they use.
Only the exact words will match the pattern inside their mind.
You get bonus points if you can also match the way they say those words.
14. Steal someone’s posture and mannerisms
People are more likely to say yes to those who are like them.
One of the ways we can convey that we are like someone else is by matching their posture and mannerisms.
It’s very important to not overdo it or they will think we are doing something.
There are a couple of ways to do this. The hard way is to try to consciously mimic their posture and mannerisms, with a slight delay each time they move. The easy way is to simply like them, enjoy being with them, and allow it to happen automatically.
This is known as matching and mirroring in hypnosis and NLP. Matching is when we exactly match what they do, while mirroring is when we act like a mirror: They raise their left arm, so we raise our right arm in the same way.
Help someone to believe you are like them by allowing yourself to enjoy being caught up in their company. This usually leads to automatically taking on their posture and mannerisms. People are more likely to say yes to those who they perceive as being like them.
15. Seed ideas with tag questions
Did you know that tag questions can be used to seed doubt and uncertainty, and also to make statements feel like questions that people have a choice about?
A tag question is a question that we tack onto the end of a statement to make it into a question.
You’re probably starting to get this now, aren’t you.
This makes sense, right.
When we make a statement with a tag question like those above, the tag question supports the statement and people are more likely to agree.
We can also use tag questions the other way around to destabilize the statement.
Check out these two statements to see what I mean:
It’s a great idea, is it?
It is a great idea, isn’t it.
The first seeds doubt and uncertainty in the statement. The second helps people to believe the statement is true and leads them towards saying yes.
You can use tag questions to seed ideas that support the things you’d like people to agree with, can’t you.
16. Use double binds to create the illusion of choice
People like to know that they have choices.
And the human mind can only keep track of a very small number of things at once.
A double bind is a linguistic construct in which we ask someone an either/or question with the intent that they will agree with the underlying idea.
Would you like to start using double binds now? Or do you prefer to wait until you’ve finished the rest of this article so that you can choose which ways of convincing people to say yes you’ll implement first?
Are you going to use double binds only to get people to say yes more often? Or are you going to use them for other things too?
Use double binds to seed underlying ideas that support the thing you’d like to convince people to say yes to.
Generally it’s best to use double binds after the conversation has been going for a little while and other things like rapport have already been established.
17. Ask How rather than Why
One of the most commonly misused types of questions are those where we ask someone why.
When we ask someone why, it forces their mind to go into justification mode. While this might sound like a good thing, in practice, most of the time it isn’t.
How questions do something entirely different.
When we ask someone how, it forces them to construct a process that leads to the outcome they want. This enables them to see clearly that they can achieve their goal. And that, in turn, guides them towards saying yes.
It also gives us the opportunity to spot any roadblocks and show them how to get around those obstacles.
Ask people how they will achieve what they desire to move their minds further into agreement and make them more likely to say yes.
18. Express gratitude
Have you ever noticed that when people are polite and say thank you when you do something for them, you feel more inclined to help them again in the future?
In individualist cultures, this is a very common thing.
And the really cool thing about it is that it doesn’t matter what you were thanked for. The positive feelings still happen.
Find ways to express gratitude and appreciation to help convince people to say yes later on.
It doesn’t even have to be them that you’re appreciating. Make positive statements and express gratitude and appreciation for the environment, the situation, and other people to move someone towards saying yes.
19. Avoid saying but
One of the most lethal words in the English language is the word but.
When we say but, the effect that it has is to cut off everything we’ve previously said and replace it with whatever comes after.
There are very few situations where this is useful.
Especially when we’d like to get someone to say yes.
Only use the word but to neutralize whatever comes before it. Use it sparingly.
And most of the time, use the word and instead.
Here’s a situation where but may seem more effective than and:
I know we’ve covered a lot of ways to get someone to say yes in this article, but when you work through them one by one they will become easy.
I know we’ve covered a lot of ways to get someone to say yes in this article, and when you work through them one by one they will become easy.
In this case, there’s a slightly negative statement, which is then either supported by and or cut off by but.
Can you see the problem?
Chances are that after reading through this many different ways to get someone to say yes, you identify a little with the statement that we’ve covered a lot in this article.
So when we use the word but like that, it seems like it might be a good thing, when in reality it is partially neutralizing the identity of the person with whom we’re communicating.
Use the word and in place of but to help get people to say yes.
20. Use fractionation to get someone to say yes
Did you know that it’s usually not the best idea to constantly lead people towards what you’d like to have happen?
When we constantly lead someone like that, what tends to happen is that they notice and start to think we’re up to something.
Who would have thought?
We can use a process known as fractionation to guide people deeper into hypnosis much more quickly. It works by repeatedly taking them in and out of hypnosis, so that they get better at it.
And the thing about fractionation is that it can be used to deepen any state at all.
Including how much someone is inclined to agree with you.
So if you’d like to know how to really ramp up your ability to get someone to say yes, go read my article on Fractionation next.