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Reframing: What It is and How to Do It. (A Psychological Technique)

Reframing: What it is and how to do it. (A Psychological Technique)

Reframing: What it is and how to do it.

Reframing is the art of changing how a person feels about an event, by changing the way they evaluate the event.

If you ask someone, "How are you doing?" You might hear a range of responses;

  • Couldn't be better!
  • Great thanks
  • Well
  • Okay
  • Not bad
  • Not good
  • You don't want to know!
  • Sit down and let me tell you all my troubles

The interesting thing is; often the emotional response has little to do with the facts.

There are many people who live in luxurious surroundings, who are miserable, and many people who live in difficult surroundings who are happy.

So, it is NOT the external environment that causes a person's emotional state, but rather, it is the way they are evaluating their environment that make the difference to how they feel.

Reframing is the art of changing the way a person feels, (either you or another person) by changing the "base of their evaluation".

If you "change the base of the evaluation", then you will change the emotional response.

For example, if I asked you, "How are you doing?" then you could answer that question by reference to many different bases:

  1. How are you doing compared to this time yesterday?
  2. Or this time last year?
  3. Compared to other people your age?
  4. Or your goals?
  5. Or your expectations?
  6. Or the average?
  7. Or the majority?
  8. Or the best in the world?
  9. Or to the worst?
  10. Or to the ideal?
  11. Or compared to your friends?
  12. Or compared to other people in your family? etc

If you change the base of the evaluation, then you change the answer to the question, and your feelings as well.

Reframing is the art of changing the base of an evaluation, in order to change the answer and therefore the associated emotional responses. Try this:

Answer the following question, but answer it eight times, using a selection of bases taken from the above list:

"Do you earn a good income?

1. Compared to this this time last year?"

  • About the same. I'm doing okay I suppose.

2. Compared to other people your age?"

  • A bit better. So, I suppose I'm doing okay

3. How are you doing, compared to your goals?"

  • A lot worse. I'm doing terribly.

4. Compared to the average? "

  • Quite a bit better. I am glad to say.

5. Compared to the best?"

  • Nowhere near. I'm a loser!

6. Compared to the worst?"

  • Lots better. I'm doing really well.

7. Compared to your friends?"

  • Most of them, but not all. I'm doing okay.

8. Compared to the other people in your family?"

  • Better than my brother! Ha ha!

Can you see that if you change the base of the comparison you change the emotional response?

Reframing is asking a question in such a way that the person changes the way they respond emotionally because you have changed their base.

Reframing is a skill you can master, if you practice.

Your mission in life is to help others:

Use this principle to make others feel good about their current situation, and / or to take away the emotional pain from a situation.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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