Six-Step Reframing – An NLP Process

Negotiating and Resolving Conflicts, Internal and External: Framing, Reframing, and the Six-Step Process

You’ve heard of “framing” in the context of politics, marketing, and areas where influencing people is a primary concern. In any context, the party setting the frame has preempted the permissible dialogue.

For instance, in the area of politics, the Republican party has very successfully framed gun ownership as an issue of personal freedom. That consistently imposed framing has allowed them to largely control dialogue around gun control by returning every argument to the issue of personal freedom.

Framing and reframing are primary examples of the use of language to influence and change behavior. Gregory Bateson, a mentor to NLP’s co-creators John Grinder and Richard Bandler, was the first to use the word ‘frame’ in the way we do in NLP. He noted that the frame was invisible, that is, out of conscious awareness.

And that making a frame conscious would change the frame. For example, a father speaking to his son who starts the conversation with, “Let’s talk,” has just changed that conversation.

One of the first major processes developed in Neuro-Linguistic Programming was a way to escape the prison of imposed frames.

Named “Six Step Reframing” it was based on the concept of reframing, and on the “parts” model from Conjoint Family Therapy. Both of those were created by Virginia Satir. Virginia was one of the three original influencers of NLP.

Studying her work enabled and inspired Bandler and Grinder et al to develop the reframing and parts models in NLP.

Like the example from politics, our personal live framings can also trap us. Usually, this is unconscious in that we are unaware of a limit we have created. 

An outside perspective can be an example of a change of frame and can save a lot of time and energy. We may have framed an issue, disagreement, or desire as unresolvable.

Re-framing opens the frame and enables a bigger perspective which can lead to a new frame for the issue that allows a novel solution to be applied. 

The use of the parts model as a way of sorting out different points of view or perspectives was another of Virginia’s major contributions. The parts model simply assumes each perspective or opinion is or can be represented by a “part” like a role in a movie. The process is to invite the “part” that wants to own that opinion or obstacle to negotiate a resolution.

The stripped-down script for a six-step reframe goes like this:

Outline of the NLP Six-Step Reframing Process

  1. Identify specific behavior (to be changed/stopped).
  2. Establish communication with part (yes/no unconscious signal).
  3. Separate behavior from positive intention (and get conscious and unconscious agreement about intention).
  4. Access a creative part and generate new behaviors (acceptable to the part generating the old behavior).
  5. Future Pace (or Contextualization).
  6. Ecological Check.

Here is an example from our NLP audio training “Six Step Reframing” of how a frameset to accomplish a positive outcome was severely limiting. In this excerpt from the audio training program, Connirae Andreas used the Six Step process to open the client to reframe the objections to change and discover new ways to get the desired outcome that was much improved. 

Excerpt from the process training program:

“So this morning we are doing six-step reframing. I really like six-step reframing. It’s one of my favorite all-purpose patterns. Sometimes we call it the dandruff-to-flat feet pattern. Because literally you can take anything and run it through this pattern and come out with new results. So you can take any symptom, any behavior that someone wants to be changed, run it through that format, and come out with new choices on the other side. Very useful.” [5:53]

“Now there are some important preset positions of six-step reframing too that I want to alert you to before I demonstrate it. The main one – the main preset position is that no matter how bizarre, how weird, how crazy, how dumb or stupid anybody’s behavior seems including our own you know. Including – no matter how stupid you think it is and you go boy I wish I didn’t do that, that there is some useful, positive purpose to that behavior. That it has some – it has positive intent. And in fact that you would be worse off without that behavior than it – than with it if you were just to get rid of the behavior itself because there’s some important, useful purpose to it.” 

“I’ll give you several examples to make sure that that idea makes sense. One person that I worked with recently wanted to lose weight. And this person was overeating. In one sense you could think about it as if a part of her was making her overeat when she didn’t want to. She thought it was a bad idea. She wanted to lose weight. Now the part of her that really didn’t care about overeating that much, what that part really wanted for her was a way of interacting with other people socially … and a way of maintaining her independence. Those were the two things that that part wanted.”

“It had turned out she had grown up in a somewhat rigid environment. And that was a way that that part figured out to maintain her independence. And it was also a way that that part had figured out to socialize. When you’re with people you eat kind of thing. “

“So once this person had – or this part had new choices for how to accomplish those goals the overeating wasn’t really an issue. That part didn’t care about that. And that behavior immediately dropped away. And the person began losing weight.”

Like almost all of our audio programs, these are live and unrehearsed. These are real people with real issues revealing and resolving them in real time. Because of the intimate nature of some of the work, voice levels may sometimes be low and require real listening. 

If you would like more details and instructions, we have the audio training in our library here.

There is also a professional transcription included. 

For the full instructions and in-depth understanding of this and the NLP models used, it is in Section 6 of our classic NLP Practitioner Training: “Hack Your Brain With NLP”