Reframing Your Communication

Reframing can allow you to shift the mindset of your audience to see the situation from a different perspective. When you reframe, you can focus attention on the particular positive aspects you would like them to see rather than the negative onesKeep your purpose and audience top of mind so you can thoughtfully reframe a response that furthers yougoals and strengthens your leadership.

  1. Why am I having this communication? 
  2. How credible am I with the listeners? 
  3. What do I want the listener to think, feel or do after hearing my words? 
  4. How can I frame what I say to increase my credibility? 
  5. Have I incorporated what I know about the audience’s viewpoint? 
  6. How will my message impact them? 
  7. Have I answered the questions “What’s in it for me?” 
  8. What other aspects are shaping the way people think, such as culture or severity of the situation? 

Here are some best practice tips: 

  • Reframe what the person said. 
  • Ask questions to get them to consider the positive aspects. 
  • Help to remove or steer around roadblocks. 
  • Isolate the issue the person has. 
  • Reframe the issue so it is easy to see how it is relevant to their work.  
  • Include viewpoints of the various audiences affected. 
  • Keep everyone on track by repeating the reframing in different ways if necessary. 
  • Shift from negative to positive and passive to active. 
    When they say “I don’t think I can solve this.”, you can say “What is one small step you can take right now?” 
  • Keep reframing until a solution emerges or the obstacle is removed.  

“So, you are saying that we should ask the team for more overtime? If we stretch our employees during the busy season, there is a risk they will be burned out and not be able to complete the projects in the new year. Do we think this is still the best option?” 

  • If uncomfortable topics arise, reframe tough questions in non threatening ways to keep everyone moving ahead.  

“Let’s figure out how we can make this busy season successful. Should we hire contract employees?” 

  • Remember to connect people together when certain skills or talents are required. 

“Your plan seems on track. Perhaps you should consider meeting with HR to make sure you are in synch.” 

Source: Harvard Management Communication Letter December 2002