(Influential Leadership) The Art of Reframing

Anyone can lead when everyone is on the same page – that doesn’t take a lot of finesse. What distinguishes a truly effective leader is a facility with handling disagreements and outright conflict.


Previously I discussed avoiding the ‘but’ in your argument to help you be more effective in disagreeing professionally. Here’s another powerful technique for your toolbox – reframing.


Moving Towards Understanding

The challenge in any disagreement is to get the other person to really hear and understand your position. This can be particularly challenging when both parties are deeply entrenched in their positions or opinions.


One thorny obstacle is that the other party is not prepared to truly listen to your position until they feel you have clearly heard and understood theirs. Otherwise, they are still mentally ‘stuck’ on their position, and filtering what they hear with their own counterarguments. Reframing is one way to move past this.


Reframing Example

Here’s a real life example, where a client applied the “Feel / Felt / Found” template.


Jim was trying to arrange a lunch meeting with a potential networking contact, hoping to get referrals to others he could meet with. He called Bruce, who brushed him off, saying:

“Jim, I don’t see how I can help you.”


Jim responded this way:

“Bruce, I understand how you might feel that way, and you’re not the only person I’ve spoken to who felt that way at first. What I’ve found, though, is that it is very helpful for me just to get the chance to meet with someone like you.”


Notice how this reduced Bruce’s tension about the meeting, and Jim’s expectations, and got Jim what he sought:


“Jim, I just didn’t want you to waste your time coming all the way into the city to meet with me when I don’t think I’m going to be able to help you, but if you want to come, I’m happy to meet with you.”


And because that tension had been eliminated, an even better result occurred. When Jim showed up for the lunch date, Bruce told him that in the meanwhile he had thought of three referrals for Jim.


So next time you are trying to turn around a disagreement, try reframing it!  Leave a comment and let me know what happens…

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