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Framing - Choose your words wisely


The true Power of Words - A Self-Study-Guide for Framing your Impact with Value and Authenticity

Caution. This may challenge your perception: "You may not lose a profit. You must not let yourself be exploited as a manager. You always have to show strength at work."

These are classic pleadings, advertising calls and beliefs of organizations or colleagues that influence our perception and our thinking. And do you know why?

Because they are formulated in a very specific way. The wording and attributes already contain what is assumed to be correct. Our human brain accepts that easily, even if it is based on wrong assumptions. We are guided by this so-called "framing".

How can you avoid this? Be careful when listening and formulating your thoughts. Re-frame implausible statements when you hear them. The situation is often very different from what your counterpart suggests. Consider to your own words. If you want to be authentic, formulate in a credible and fair manner. Avoid lurid judgments or unchecked evaluations of facts. Be consistent in your messages and pursue realistic and generally useful goals. Think about the other and re-frame any thought in a two-sided manner - this is much more than positive thinking. Avoid blaming, reproach, sarcasm, and malice.

For example, introducing sentences in the first section could be re-framed like this: "Check how you can optimize the outcomes. Balance your energy as a leader. Be human at work."
Transform messages from one-sided frames into more balanced re-framed versions. Use a few of these example frames and adjust the grammer so the meaning is clear. If you then compare the sentences, you will see the effect:

  • instead of "winning and losing" say "seeking solutions and fairness"
  • instead of "fear" formulate "security"
  • instead of "must do or must not do" say "making responsible decisions and choosing actions voluntarily"
  • instead of "risks" say "checking the consequences and effects"
  • instead of "can not stand somebody" say "having learning needs"
  • instead of "exploiting" say "offering"
  • instead of "not knowing" say "finding out"
  • instead of "not being responsible" say "finding a solution"
  • instead of "others are not delivering" say "how to achieve motivation"
  • instead of "guilt and punishment" say "shared responsibility and solution"
  • instead of "if" say "how"

The psychology behind that is almost trivial: We increase our self-efficacy through healthy framing. This creates responsibility for our own thinking and acting.  The use of positive triggers and motivators promotes happiness hormones and cooperation. This makes us feel and perform better. The negative frames trigger fear, flight, and fight mechanisms, which lead to defense mechanisms, overreactions, and often wrong conclusions.

Language is powerful. Use this power wisely and with reason.

What are your experiences with framing? Do you have more examples? Write us at .


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