Reframing With Authority: He or She Who Sets the Best Frame, Wins
Has this ever happened to you? You’re driving down the freeway, maybe a little too fast, maybe not, and those red and blue lights begin to flash in your rearview mirror. So you pull over and prepare your papers. . . license, registration, proof of insurance. And the law enforcement officer makes his way to your window, quickly so as to not waste your time, and politely says, ‘Hi. . .I’m just wondering if you . . .I’m so sorry to bother you. But would you mind showing me your license and registration? I think there might have been a slight infraction of the law and I’d really like to clear it up if you don’t mind. I’m so sorry for the inconvenience.’
Umm. . . No, that hasn’t happened to you. And it will never happen to you. Why? Law enforcement officers don’t care about your convenience or worry about offending you. It’s not the frame within which they are operating. Their frame is, ‘I’m in charge. You do what I tell you to do. I have all the power in this interaction and I have absolutely no problem using this power in any way I see fit.’
Maybe not all officers are that extreme but I’m exaggerating a little to make my point.
The frames we set for ourselves and our exchanges with others are what color every business transaction and every romantic or personal interaction we have. Whoever sets the stronger frame, wins.
This doesn’t mean we have to pull power trips on people. Absolutely not. This simply means that when we come to the table, we have to have our resolve strong and our place in the negotiations set. I’m not going to approach a potential new student with, ‘Well, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to give you a little advice to help learn persuasion and how to increase sales. . .’ Heck no! First of all, I know full and well that I’m absolutely certain I can teach anyone to increase sales through persuasion. There’s no beating around the bush. I’m not shy about these things. How good a persuader would I be if I were shy about my ability to help people?
Framing is what we use to control everything. If we extend that and look at what that means, in any area of our life, there are frames that are operating and those frames are dictating our behavior, our responses and the way in which the interaction takes place.
We have the frame of the sales person and the perspective client. One frame that operates is, ‘Prove to me why I need you or why I should use you.’ That might be a frame that the client is coming from. A frame that the advisor might adopt might be, ‘I am the expert in this field and so I work with people who understand that and can take advantage of what I tell them.’
But supposing you came from the frame of, ‘I’m really not anybody. I’m just kind of trying to survive here. I don’t know a whole lot, really. I just sort of represent a couple of companies that years ago, I guess I somehow lucked into my license and I represent a couple of companies that have a few things available and maybe there’s something you want.’
Am I going to sign up with that guy? No. No one is.
Before your next meeting take some time to think about the framework you’re using to work with the people around you.
Until Next Time,
Kenrick E. Cleveland