Reframing Conversations

“We need to reframe the work of the board.” “Let’s reframe how we’re thinking about this problem.” “Maybe if I reframe what I’m saying it’ll make more sense.”

Heard any of these or similar statements lately?  Reframing is trending, just in case you hadn’t noticed.

In our attempts to better convey a message, establish expectations, or consider possibilities; reframing has become the concept of choice for those of us looking to infuse a little clarity into the conversation.  When I think of reframing I think of neat, clean, outlines, and even boundaries.  Something reframed should be improved and enhanced. Reframe – such a simple word with high expectations.

We all know that words have meanings.  We also know that words and the accompanying meanings evoke images, emotions, and responses in the listeners.  I’ve seen three things happen when the word “reframe” is used:

1. It announces to our audience that we want to take a different approach. Listeners are expecting a different direction.  When we’re reframing, we’re not just thinking outside the box, we’re throwing the box away.

2. It sets the stage to look at an old challenge a new way.  Reframing presents the image of removing the frame that has restricted thought, growth and change.  Whatever was in the frame gets to unfold and we see it in a whole new way – this view opens the door to solutions that we hadn’t conceived.

3. It provides an opportunity to diversify the message for a broader audience.  Reframing can indicate that we care enough about the audience to ensure the message is relevant to them.  Think about the message, If we’re the only one that gets it, there’s no need to tell it.

So next time you want to set the stage for an engaging conversation consider starting by reframing something.  You never know what you’ll get once you remove the frame.

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