A Pound Of Framing: The Power Of Language In Politics And Life

Years ago the then so-named anti-abortion movement seemed to be making little progress.

Then they started re-branding themselves the “pro-life” movement.

Well, if they were the pro-life movement, and you opposed them, what did that make
you?  Anti-life? Pro-Death? Take your pick; poor choices all.

You’ll notice two important elements of framing in that example. First, re-framing
their label took a lot of time and effort. The media didn’t change from calling
them anti-abortionists to pro-lifers overnight. It took effort and consistency.

Once accomplished, however, they had not only re-framed their brand. They had also
re-framed the argument, and out-framed their opponents.

In NLP we spend a lot of time understanding the impact of language.  One of the
major language elements is this area of framing and re-framing.

When I first became professionally involved in NLP we were virtually the only people
who understood the concept. If you mentioned framing at that time people thought
you were talking about architecture or paintings.

Since then the concept of framing in language has become common usage. You’ll see
it frequently mentioned in reference to political arguments and positions.

Noticing the use and effects of framing in politics is usually pretty easy.  It’s
also a lot easier to learn to recognize these effects at a distance, like a political
speech, than in your personal life and interactions.

Humor is also largely based on framing and re-framing and is another place to notice
and play with it.

In basic NLP we spend serious time learning to reframe a position or belief or other
limitation.

Yet the fact is, framing is usually more powerful and more subtle. Framing the boundaries
and setting the presuppositions of a conversation or negotiation or debate is a
lot easier than reframing it.

As Steve Andreas likes to say, “An ounce of framing is worth a pound of reframing.”

Where in your life could a simple bit of framing or re-framing make things a little
bit easier?

Cheers,

Tom

PS:

You’ll find more about language in almost every NLP title we carry. Special focus
is given, of course, throughout our trainings.

In our Practitioner program alone we spend almost 50% of our time on these and other
powerful language patterns. We typically spend more than three days on just these
two language elements alone. You can get an idea of just how thorough we are by looking at the
Table of Contents for the Home Study program here.

And of course there is the ever popular Advanced Language Patterns seminar on CD.

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