!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Framing Reality

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Framing Reality

We're all so sophisticated these days. For instance, it seems just about everybody talks knowingly about "framing" when discussing the dynamics of political and other discussions. People blithely talk about the importance of not letting others frame ideas in ways that automatically make one's own point of view seem misguided, unimportant, or dangerous.

But how many people actually have the skill to reframe issues? How do you get your own perspective recognized and given consideration? You want to have legitimate dialogue, as opposed to engaging in endless sparring. At best, a sparring match doesn't accomplish anything and, at worst, it results in bad decisions about important issues.

For instance, in a conflict situation, a key step is reframing the issue from individual positions, to a neutral, mutually acceptable statement of the issues. How do you do this?

To set the stage for a constructive dialogue:
  • Frame the discussion to avoid blame, and instead focus on the larger problem everyone is facing.

  • In a complex situation, invest sufficient time and effort to uncover all concerns before you move to reframe them into a constructive problem statement.
Some guidelines:
  • Focus on actual interests — concerns, wants, needs. Do not accept as premises for the discussion the various parties' positions — their specific answers, responses, solutions.

  • Reverse roles. Put yourself in the other person's place. Be as explicit as possible when imagining what it is like to be him or her. How might it make sense for the other person to feel as he/she does? What is the best light you can view the other person in? What is it like to be the other person looking at you?

  • Identify common ground. Defining a dispute as "ours to resolve" is the beginning point for getting people on the same side of the table. Finding and highlighting commonalities, even on small issues, can establish a successful pattern and enhance problem solving.
And, of course, take seriously the goal of arriving at a neutral statement of the issue. Don't undercut your trustworthiness by trying to get the issue phrased in terms that are biased toward your own point of view and your own interests.


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