The concept of “Framing” in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is designed to establish constraints around particular situations, ideas, discussions or behaviors. In a way, Frames in NLP are similar to identifying the context of a topic in a conversation — in both cases the desired outcome is to set some unspoken guidelines around the “what, when, who, how and why” components of our communication.
In the case of business leaders, the purpose of using Frames is to help direct the person/group’s attention or focus and influence how events are to be interpreted. One common example of framing is what people refer to as a “time frame” — setting a time frame for a meeting will often shape the kind of communication that happens. As an example, a 30 minute meeting will be more goal oriented with less time for discussion and group input than a 3 hour meeting covering the same agenda.
The Relevancy Frame (also known as a Relevancy Challenge) is specifically intended to help keep communication flowing in the right direction. You can keep a person/group focused on the right topic by asking questions about how their comment, statement or question is relevant to the current goal of the meeting or interaction.
Some examples might be:
- “How does that relate to the issues we’re looking at now?” or
- “What relationship does that have to the topic at hand?”
People like to be recognized for their input and one of the best ways to reduce resistance when dealing with people is to begin with the Agreement Frame. This is a way for you to redirect a person’s argumentative energy rather than attempting to overcome it. In the process the subject will feel validated in their own opinion, belief or value, while at the same time offering them a new point of reference.
Common language patterns utilizing the Agreement Frame include statements such as;
- “I appreciate where you’re coming from, and what we need to look at now is…” or
- “I respect what you’re saying here, and our goal now should be to look at…” or
- “I agree that from your point of view on this is valid, so what we might want to focus on then is…” or
- “You’re right, in your experience that’s exactly how it is, and to solve this we need to focus on…”
Avoiding resistance from others keeps everyone involved in what is being said while leaving them open to new ideas. Having this intention in mind you want to avoid using words that negate what they’ve said such as, “but” and “however” — these words will negate the value of everything said immediately before them so eliminating those words from communication as much as possible goes a long way toward overcoming common resistance in others.
This style of framing is about identifying a person’s “Evidence Procedures” — the observable evidence that a person uses to define whether or not a goal has been reached (using sensory specific language that describes what you’ll see, hear and feel when the desired outcome is achieved).
By asking evidence questions you can gather the necessary information while helping them link their own unconscious expectations of the final results. Questions such as;
- “Do you have anything you specifically want to include in that discussion?” or
- “How exactly will that all look when we’re done?”
Asking for information like that will also ensure that everyone’s perception of what to expect are in-line, which is much more useful than everyone simply trying to do things their own way.
From an NLP point of view, Framing is a very important part of the communication process. Setting clear frames, such as pre-framing the expected outcomes of a meeting before you begin, will help people set mental guidelines around how they interpret messages and behaviors, as well as how they interact and provide input.
Whenever a person has an unclear frame of what is happening, what is going to happen or what is expected of them, then it is easier for them to become unnecessarily confused, fearful and resistant — ultimately increasing the chances for mis-communication and misunderstanding.
Top 3 NLP Framing Techniques For Business