The Power of Reframing

Last month we examined George Lakoff's book, Don't think of an elephant and the power of framing. Framing helps establish the right mindset for achieving a goal in politics, business, or relationships.

This month we'll examine reframing: how to transcend the opposition's frame and create another mental model for people to consider.

Reframing and Sleight of Mouth

Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. Reframing seeks to shapeshift a person's existing frame into a new and better frame that will open up possibilities unavailable in their old frame.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) has developed this into a science that anyone can learn. The ability to reframe someone's statements has been aptly described as sleight of mouth.

Almost any statement includes some form of belief. Last month we discussed the phrase tax relief, which includes the belief that taxes are bad.

There are 14 key reframes. For each one, there's a question you can ask yourself that will help discover a way to reframe any statement. Let's take tax relief as an example:

Metaframe
How can they possibly believe that?
You just want to make sure that your taxes are used wisely.
 
Change Frame Size (bigger or smaller)
What's something they haven't noticed about this?
So you don't like the roads we drive on or the Internet I'm using to share these ideas with you?
 
Apply to Self
Just use their words on their statement?
How could taxes relieve our most pressing problems?
 
Reality
How would they know if it's not true?
How do you know that taxes aren't the cure for what ails the country?
 
Model of the world
Is this true in everyone's model of the world?
Do taxes afflict everyone? (Not the homeless.)
 
Intent
Why are they saying this? What are the positive benefits that come from this? What are they trying to gain?
You just want the rich to get richer; is that it?
 
Counterexample
What's the exception that disproves their rule?
So more tax revenue means the economy's sick?
 
Chunk up
For what purpose? What's important to them about this?
Is tax relief for the wealthy few more important than taking care of all Americans?
 
Chunk Down
Who or what, specifically? What are examples or parts of this?
Who will benefit from tax reliefspecifically?
 
Redefine
What other meanings could this statement have?
Taxes would be a welcome relief for the budget deficit.
 
Metaphor
What's a different or opposing metaphor?
Taxes could cure a lot of society's ills.
 
Another Outcome
What's another outcome you could shift to? 
Whether tax relief is beneficial or not isn't the real issue, but rather how can government deliver the most value to all Americans.
 
Consequence
What will happen to them if they continue to think this way?
Why not just eliminate all taxes and get rid of government all together?
 
Hierarchy of Criteria
What are their higher values. Apply their higher value to this statement.
How will we protect the country if we don't have any money to fund our defense?
Get the idea? Don't use their lingo; reframe it to match your message. Develop your own frames. Remember:

An ounce of framing is worth a pound of reframing.

These sleight of mouth patterns will help you find many different ways to loosen your opposition's grip on their limiting beliefs. And these patterns will help you anticipate how the opposition will try to reframe yours.

Remember to have fun with language. Words matter.

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008-2016 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, 888-468-1537, ."