People respond not only to the specific words used in communication but also to the underlying “frames” that shape the context and meaning of those words. A frame is a mental framework or context that can influence the way we perceive and interpret information. The mental framework will depend on the values, beliefs , experiences and tone of the communication. They can significantly impact how we perceive and respond to a statement. Here are some contrasting examples of positive and negative frames in different contexts:
- Job interview
Negative Frame: “What are your weaknesses?”
Positive Frame: “What skills would you like to develop further?”
The negative frame of asking about weaknesses can make the interviewee feel defensive and put them in a negative state of mind. In contrast, asking about skills to develop presents an opportunity for growth and improvement, which can put the interviewee in a positive and open state of mind.
Negative Frame: “What problem are you having with our product?”
Positive Frame: “What are your goals for using our product?”
The negative frame of asking about problems can make the customer feel defensive and focus on the negative aspects of the product. In contrast, asking about goals can help the customer focus on the positive outcomes they hope to achieve with the product, which can make them more receptive to the benefits of the product.
- Personal development
Negative Frame: “What’s holding you back from achieving your goals?”
Positive Frame: “What steps can you take to achieve your goals?”
The negative frame of asking about what’s holding someone back can make them feel defensive and focus on obstacles and limitations. In contrast, asking about steps to take can help the person focus on proactive and positive action towards their goals, which can increase their motivation and self-empowerment.
In each of these examples, the negative frame can create a negative and limiting state of mind, whereas the positive frame can create a more positive and open state of mind. By recognizing and using positive frames, individuals can be more effective in communication and achieve better outcomes.
By understanding the underlying frames that shape communication, individuals can more effectively communicate. NLP techniques such as reframing can be used to shift the frame of a conversation and reframe a situation in a way that is more conducive to achieving a desired outcome.
For example, if a person is resistant to change, reframing a situation as an opportunity for growth and development may be more effective than presenting it as a challenge to be overcome. Similarly, in a negotiation, reframing an offer in terms of the benefits to the other party’s interests can be more persuasive than emphasizing cost savings.
By using positive frames, individuals can create a more positive and open state of mind, which can increase their creativity, motivation, and self-empowerment, and help them to achieve their desired outcomes.
Overall, the importance of understanding and responding to the underlying frames can greatly assist communication in order to be more effective in all types of communication.