Framing life so it works for you

When was the last time you made a frame for something? I once made one from some old wood I found in the shed – although a challenge it was a very satisfying experience and completely changed the way we looked at the painting I’d made it for.

When it comes to communication framing is a simple concept, we do it all the time without being aware of it.  The frames we put around our experiences influence how we interpret, understand and respond to life (the meaning that we give to it).  They dictate what information we pay attention to and what lies outside the ‘frame’ becomes lost to us.

Knowing how to contextualise and frame communication can ensure that we are effective and make an impact.  However set the frame too tight or too wide and we might exclude important data or become overwhelmed and pulled off track by the amount of information coming at us. Setting the frame and sharing it allows us to be clear about what is ok to include in a discussion and what is best kept for another time.

If your conversations are woolly and unsatisfying then check how you are framing them

The Outcomes Frame is one practical way of framing a discussion that supports the coaching process – it puts a focus on moving forward and achieving positive solutions.  You may have come across something similar with SMART outcomes.

The Problem Frame is equally as important as it is used to collect and connect information about what actually happened and can separate out the symptoms from the cause.

Balance and clarity is the key – “now we are analysing and reflecting on the problem, next we’ll focus on what we want to be different”.

The ability to understand and use different frames helps us connect with others. If you are aware that you seem to be “speaking a different language” to the person you are with then try being curious about the frame they are using:

  • Where are they coming from? What is their experience?
  • Can you find a more general frame of reference that you both share (such as team objectives or the reason why you both need a holiday) and within which you can reframe the conversation (in NLP terms ‘chunking up’)

We create frames to enable us to function well and to protect the things that are important to us – our behaviours, beliefs and/or experiences.  How we frame the world is set up to reinforce and endorse our sense of self.  However sometimes we outgrow a frame we have created or it can become so rigid that it keeps us stuck in one way of thinking and we are unable to access new information that would open up better options.

If how you see the world stops working for you –  change the frame

The purpose of reframing is to adjust the frame so new information can come in and open up possibility.

In NLP reframing is a whole topic in itself.  However when I find that something in my world feels uncomfortable the questions I ask are:

  • What has actually happened here – what is all the evidence? Not opinions or stories about it, but the facts and the order they happened in.
  • What contributed to this situation?
  • What is the story I am telling myself?
  • Is it true – absolutely true?* (It rarely is!)
  • If it is not true what else might be going on here? How might other people see this?
  • How else might I see this and how might I reframe the situation in a way that would be more useful to me.

See if you can become more aware of how you use framing and frames and where these are working for and against you!

We’ll be covering frames and reframing in the NLP Practice Group this month – check it out here

*Is it true? A question from Loving What Is by Byron Katie