Reframing happens when you create a new context, or a new “frame” for a discussion. It’s one of the most powerful and effective ways of communicating.
Reframing is especially critical when you are trying to compete for attention or acceptance. By reframing the entire conversation, or the way your counterpart thinks about the issue, you shift the discussion onto your playing field. This goes right along with creating a niche for yourself.
Here are some examples of reframing:
- We are not the cheapest service, but we are the highest quality. Most of our clients enjoyed our service so much they said it was worth every penny.
- Our competitor says they are higher quality, but let’s take a step back for a second: do you really need all of those extra features, or do you just want a quick and affordable product that is delivered on time?
- Mr. fast food executive, is your food healthy? >> Well, look, I think people want affordable food that tastes great, and that’s what we deliver in our 3,000 + stores across the country [avoided the issue of healthiness, and set up a new frame about cheap food, good taste and the company’s success]
- Should we send troops to invade Iraq? >> I believe in a strong military and a robust American diplomacy [avoided the question by creating new frame–universal values of a military defense and diplomatic efforts]
Instead of trying to compete directly with someone who has an advantage over you, either shift the competition to something you are strong in, or leave and create a new competition altogether. In other words, create a new frame.
Politicians are constantly reframing. Most of the time they come across as dodging the question and it infuriates us to no end. But it works. It allows them to get their message out and avoid negative press attention.
Especially because the press itself has a certain “frame” or “narrative” that they are trying to push onto the politician when interviewing.
Sometimes reframing backfires in a hilarious way:
You can avoid this nonsense by acknowledging what the other person is saying, the truth of it, and not avoiding it. And then explain why your approach or your argument is better:
“Yes, we will take an extra few weeks to complete the project. But let me ask you, which is more important to you right now: getting this job done right, completely and fully, with all the elements in place and ready to go on day one, or getting an incomplete job that will slow you down and make your work even tougher?”
You can reframe your image by simply changing your terminology and descriptors:
- Come in and have a cup of coffee >> Come in and get energized with a warm cup that reminds you of home
- Have a soda >> Have some refreshment in a glass
- Eat a cheeseburger >> Enjoy our famous cheeseburger, made from savory premium beef
- Be more productive >> Get your work done to have more time with your kids
- Make more money >> Get the freedom and lifestyle you want
- I’m a developer >> I make awesome apps and games for your phone
- I’m a corporate lawyer >> I help companies navigate a complex legal environment and avoid costly litigation
- I’m a Publicist >> I’m a Marketing and Branding Expert
- I’m a Personal Trainer >> Comprehensive Fitness, Health and Wellness Educator
- Sales Associate >> Professional Closer and Revenue Maximizer
- Dating Coach >> Dating and Relationship Consultant
- Driver and Delivery Guy >> Logistics Specialist
- Fashion Stylist >> Personal Image Specialist
Almost anything can be reframed depending on the message you want to convey. Be creative and don’t let others force a bad frame on you.
Cultivate a unique frame that calls attention to your strengths and specialties.
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