By changing a frame the conversation can move. Let me explain what I mean by “frame” first.
A frame refers to how we may position our thinking within a context. By changing the position of thinking, the frame, we can change the context and create new meanings or understandings. It is possible to think about or discuss something from a variety of frames to check meanings, explore other opportunities and consider impact in other areas that may be affected.
As a Life Coach here are just a few of my favourite frames:
Open Frame: This frame provides an opportunity for questions or comments during a discussion. It stimulates inclusion and rapport in a meeting because it values all input and creates a safe environment in which to add input.
Outcome Frame: In this frame the focus is on the desirable outcome. When the focus is on the outcome it is not on the problem. Problems that may surface can simply become an challenge to be solved because of where the focus is. To use this frame fully remain focussed on what the desired outcome is, areas of commonality between the groups and where there is overlap between the groups.
Agreement Frame: This frame can be used to redirect an argumentative energy of someone rather than trying to tackle them straight on or to overcome it. It is great for negotiations and is aimed at reducing resistance within communication.
Frame that Conversation for Success
Often when people are planning, discussing or negotiating and there are opposite ideas there can be a lot of conversations that include “but”, “however”, “no I think this is a better idea.” There can also be some more direct opinions and comments which only serve an aggravating purpose.
Agreement frames start by acknowledging the other person. “I respect that….” “I appreciate …..” “I agree ……” and allow the receiver to feel like they are contributing. An “and” instead of a “but” allows inclusion. For example “I respect that and believe it is relevant. And, if we consider this as well how could the two interact.”
Discovery Frame: This frame is almost like taking on another persona – perhaps that of a person seeing something for the very first time. It is a state of mind that is curious to explore, is detached from expectation or judgements and enjoys the possibility of ….. well, discovering. It is possible to almost suspend disbelief in this frame and play “what if…..” because there are no preconceived ideas in this frame. Walt Disney and his team epitomise the use of this frame.
Back Track Frame: Utilising this frame allows the converser to clarify what they have just heard for better understanding. In coaching by using this frame and reflecting back what has just been said allows the speaker to hear what they have just said returned back to them. It can at times be an interesting realisation.
Ecology Frame: This frame offers opportunity for any decisions about to be made to be tested on their impact in a variety of areas.
A decision to work long hours on a project may appear feasible. An ecology frame would consider the impact of those in the project; the families of the staff involved, what other aspects of the business may be impacted by a lack of attention, the consequences of achieving and not achieving the outcome. It may also consider resources available and resources required and how this will be balanced – as an example.
Versatility in utilising frames within discussions and project meetings can ensure inclusion of all, rapport and productive meetings.
Christine Walter is a Life Coach, Hypnotherapist, NLP Master Practitioner and trainer in all three modalities.