Use the “Rule of Three” to strengthen the agreement or commitment.

The “Rule of Three” triples the strength of whatever agreement or commitment you’re trying to drill into at the moment. It uncovers problems before they happen. This is a way to ensure your agreement is implemented with no surprises, and your counterpart will feel grateful. Consequently, your relationship of trust will be improved.


  1. Listen carefully for the first time your counterpart agrees with your terms or gives you a commitment.
    This is the first of the three.

  2. Label or summarize what your counterpart just said so they answer with, “That’s right.”

  3. Use a calibrated question beginning with “what” or “how” that asks them to explain again their commitment to implementation.
    Good examples are, “How will we know that we’re on track?” Or, “What are the most important parts of this deal to make it work?”

  4. Alternate step: You can ask the same calibrated question rephrased three different ways to get to three agreements.
    For example:

    1. What steps do we need to make this work for you? (No. 1)
    2. How do you see this project moving to completion? (No. 2)
    3. How do we know that we’re on track to get this done? (No. 3)


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