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The Four Agreements: What is The Third Agreement?

In this latest look at The Four Agreements, we delve into the third agreement and find how to make it work for the ways we live now.
by Chris Allmer | Oct 18 2023

The Four Agreements is a 1997 bestselling self-improvement book by don Miguel Ruiz. It distills the lessons Ruiz learned from studying pre-Columbian Toltec traditions into four maxims according to which we should live our lives. This article will primarily center around the third agreement:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions
  4. Always Do Your Best

Two decades after its publication, The Four Agreements has sold over 8 million copies in the US alone; it has been on The New York Times bestseller list for over a decade, and it has been translated into 46 languages. Blinkist wants to offer its audience of keen learners insight into the self-limiting beliefs that Ruiz says are instilled into our consciousness without our knowledge, and how we can overcome them.

A recap on The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements details self-limiting behaviors we incur unconsciously, and teaches us how to correct them, so that we are able to live our lives in harmony with ourselves and with others.

If this is the first article you are reading from this series on The Four Agreements, we suggest you take a look at this detailed overview of the book, and get acquainted with the first and second agreements. Here is a short recap of the four agreements by don Miguel Ruiz:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word: The first agreement is based on the assumption that our words frame how we experience our lives, and they affect the way in which we see ourselves and others. The key learning is that we should never use them against ourselves or against others.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally: The second agreement is a lesson on how to react when someone is not impeccable with their word. We should not let these situations affect the frame through which we see ourselves and our lives.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions: We should not assume that others know what we think or what we want, and vice versa. We should communicate our needs and our feelings clearly, and we should ask questions instead of jumping to conclusions when thinking about the behaviors of others.
  4. Always Do Your Best: The fourth agreement is a call to action. It states that we should be the best version of ourselves every day, within the context of our circumstances and our state of mind. This does not mean we should be the best, but the best we can be at any particular moment.

What is The Third Agreement?

Have you ever felt that a good friend suddenly starts acting strangely? Have you ever felt fear that you did something to hurt them, but you don’t know what it is? This happens to all of us, and it is only one of the many different ways in which assumptions manifest in our lives, and bring problems with them.

”Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
— don Miguel Ruiz

If you’ve been following the first and second agreements, you will have realized that negatively framing our experiences and ourselves through our words will impact our own self-perception. Assumptions can play a destructive role in our lives, because they are misleading. We make them out of our own experiences, but mostly, out of what we think are our shortcomings.

Understanding The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions

To better understand, the Third Agreement, consider this scenario: You send a message to a close friend, and there’s no immediate reply. The initial assumption could be they’re upset with you when, in reality, they might simply be preoccupied. Such assumptions can precipitate stress, anxiety, and potential strains in your relationships.

Steering clear of assumptions can significantly enhance our interpersonal interactions. It paves the way for more genuine connections and minimizes potential misunderstandings. Furthermore, it fosters a healthier mental state, devoid of baseless concerns and anxieties.

How Can I Stop Making Assumptions?

1. Active Listening

When engaging in a conversation, it’s imperative to go beyond the spoken words. It’s not just about hearing, but truly understanding the emotions and intentions that envelop those words. The nuance in a person’s voice, the hesitation in their speech, or the passion in their tone all provide clues.
To work proactively on your listening skills, start with this audio Shortcast and learn about the art of listening.

2. Question More, Assume Less

Ruiz emphasizes the significance of asking questions. For instance, rather than assuming about a colleague’s feedback or a partner’s mood, it’s more productive to ask them directly. This approach ensures clarity and removes the space for erroneous judgments. Sometimes, a single question might provide all the answers, while at other times, you might need to delve deeper to uncover the truth. The key is to approach situations with curiosity rather than conclusions.
With this Blinkist book summary, you will also learn how to ask great questions and why asking the right questions is a superpower:

3. Reflect Before Reacting

Before drawing conclusions or reacting impulsively, it’s wise to take a moment to reflect. Are the conclusions based on experiences, or are they rooted in current reality? Introspection can help differentiate between the two, ensuring reactions are appropriate and measured.
The Blink “Emotion Code” can help you master your Emotions and most of all you will learn how to understand them:
With this Blinkist book summary, you will also learn how to ask great questions and why asking the right questions is a superpower:


4. Speak Your Mind

Transparent communication is a two-way street. While it’s important to understand others, expressing oneself clearly is equally crucial. By articulating thoughts, feelings, and intentions, we offer others a clear picture of our perspective. Sometimes, just the act of voicing a thought can lead to new insights or changes in perspective.
Blinkist’s summary, “Say What You Mean” is a guide to meaningful and productive communication. It shows how you can leave old, unhelpful habits behind and develop the skills to speak your mind in a clear and authentic way:


5. Communicate Openly

Ruiz often underscores communication as the cornerstone of all four agreements, with a special emphasis when discussing the third agreement. Clear, open dialogue about feelings and concerns prevents misunderstandings. When people understand each other’s needs and perspectives, they are better equipped to help, support, or collaborate.
You can find at Blinkist a practical guide called “Communicate with Mastery” in case you are wishing to strengthen your communication skills. It provides actionable advice and useful strategies to become an influential speaker and a compelling writer.

The wisdom within “The Four Agreements” remains ever-relevant, providing a roadmap to self-awareness and harmonious living. For those keen to dig deeper, Blinkist offers invaluable insights into Ruiz’s teachings, along with a plethora of related resources to enhance understanding.

Whether you’re striving to master the art of listening, seeking the superpower of asking the right questions, or aiming to refine your communication skills, Blinkist’s large library of book summaries is at your fingertips.

Start your free journey with Blinkist now and let the essences of “The Third Agreement” guide you toward a deeper understanding and a more balanced existence.
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