Change Your Frame, Change Your World (and your responses to it)

Frame management is one of the most powerful tools in communication, behavior change, rapport and influence. In the first episode of "Influence Every Day," I touch on frame management and why we should use it.

Let's start with a demonstration; I will walk you through some imagery. Take a few minutes to relax and reflect on it.

I want you to imagine there is a little girl, about four years old, and she is looking back over her shoulder, giggling intensely. Imagine this four-year-old girl laughing really hard – the sound you hear in those cute viral videos of children – as she looks back over her shoulder, running forward.

Take note of how you feel in this moment about this scene with this happy little girl.

Now, imagine that two adults are chasing after her. One has their arms outstretched. Both of them have a look of worry on their face. They are clearly horrified as they chase after her. She is still giggling hard, looking back over her shoulder, running forward. But she's heading towards a busy street with cars whizzing by at 50 miles an hour.

Take note of how you feel.

Now, imagine we step back a little bit further. You still see those same adults chasing after that same girl, who is giggling on her way to the busy street. But now you can see that there are cameras around them. There are lights. There is a producer. There is a director. There is a Hollywood set. You realize that those people are actors. It is the same scene: the same little girl, the same giggle, the same street, the same adults – but it is a Hollywood set.

Again, take note of how you feel.

So, what was the purpose of this? What happened here? Essentially, I gave you the same information, but each time I gave you a slightly different lens, a slightly different frame, which caused different emotions.

In the first scene, you probably thought it was a cute image, right? Unless you've had experience with toddlers and knew she was definitely going to bump into something, in that case you might have been a little on edge. But either way, it was a very different emotion from the next scene, which was, by the way, the same exact scene, just slightly expanded; it had an expanded lens. In the second scene, you were probably worried or concerned or perhaps wondering why I suggested this exercise. Then, in the third scene, there may have been relief. You may have felt she was safe. And for some of you, any one of those scenes may have triggered a deeper emotion related to something in your past.

But in any case, the point is that with three different descriptions of the same exact scene, you ended up with three very different emotions. That is what we call frame control. When you control a frame, you control how somebody sees a scene. You control how they see a person – a colleague, a friend, or a loved one – and how they perceive their current situation or current circumstances.

Frame control affects many things, not just emotions. It affects behaviors. It affects conversations. It affects mindsets. It affects states. Simply by changing a frame, you affect all these things.

When it comes to communication, frame change – frame control – is one of the most powerful tools known to humankind. The saying "a picture is worth a thousand words", while true, is still up to interpretation, so you need to be careful. That same picture, depending on the words attached to it, can have a completely different meaning. That is essentially what we do with frame control.

Obviously, the goal of "Influence Every Day" is to aid people in the topics of influence, rapport, persuasion, communication, and relationships, in an ethical way. The goal is to influence for good, for betterment, because influence is sticky. It stays. It lasts.

Now, you might wonder: "Well, wait a minute, is this evil? Should we be doing frame control if it's that powerful? If it can change behaviors and change states and emotions and mindsets, should we even be dabbling in this domain?" Well, the answer is "Absolutely". And here's why; your relationships depend on it.

If you are a parent influencing your child, you have a duty to manage or change frames. You have a duty to manage frames for how they see their career, their relationship with neighbors, with loved ones, with family, with their future spouses or kids, etc.

If you're a leader in an organization, you have a duty to manage the frame of the people that report to you or the people that are serving the organization in some way. If you are working in the community and you are advocating for a cause, you have a duty to influence.

You have a duty to manage frames.

Let me give you another example: If you are stopping by a friend's house and they recently had a loss, a breakup or something of that nature, what is the purpose of your visit? Why are you there? You are there to influence. You are there to change their state. You are there to help them through a difficult situation. That is your intention, your duty.

Then why does frame control sometimes feel like manipulation, evil, or underhanded? The reason is that, sometimes, people misuse it. When people use frame management for political reasons or for sales or something similar, at some point they cross a boundary. That boundary is the social contract. That boundary is in how people are coming together to begin with.

In other words, there is a social contract when a parent influences a child. There is an understanding; that is what the parent is there to do. That is part of their job. If you go to a physician or nurse practitioner and you are going there for your health, your well-being, their job is to influence your health. This means they can pull out all kinds of things to try to influence you. If they have that powerful tool – a frame change, a frame management – they can accomplish the very reason you are brought together.

It's just like you going to a friend to console them or to celebrate them for something they have done or accomplished. You are going there with a purpose and that purpose is understood by both of you. It only becomes evil, underhanded, and manipulative when the intentions are different or when they violate the social contract. That is when the boundary is crossed.

At "Influence Every Day" we are going to cover tools, tips, and strategies that you can use every single day in the areas where you already have a social contract, where your job is to influence. We are going to help you build up the tools and the skills to be able to do that.

Every week, there will be new episodes that will help you in your day-to-day life. We will get into specifics on how you can use frame management and other tools for your own emotions, as well as teach you how to influence others for good. 

So, listen to the episodes on the way to work or on the way to school. Maybe do this first thing when you wake up! Don't check your email, your computer, or the news. These affect your state (we will cover them in a different episode). Instead, listen to something that will better your day. And "Influence Every Day" is all about getting better every day by influencing for good.

STOP reacting! Be Deliberate Instead...

If you’re busy and you want to have incredible success in your career and at home, then take a page out of your Influence Playbook. No more winging it. No more just going through the motions. And no more trying to control things (or people) you can't control.

Instead, control the controllables with The Influence Playbook:

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