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Reframing With Authority: Whoever Has the Best Frame, Wins

Mar 5, 2008
Here's a scenario that's probably never happened to you (or anybody). You're driving down the freeway and maybe you're going a tad too fast, and you look up and see the old blue and red lights flashing in your rear view mirror. Bummer. So you pull over and wait. The officer walks up to your window and says, "Hi there. I'm so sorry to inconvenience you. I think you might have been going a little to fast and I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind showing me your license, registration and proof of insurance? Again, I'm so sorry to bother you."

Yeah. . .that's never happened. Why? Well, law enforcement doesn't concern themselves with your inconvenience or worry about offending you or bothering you. They don't operate within the frame of concerning themselves with your experience of them. They operate from the perspective that they are in charge and that you will do exactly as they tell you to do. They operate with the assumption that they have all the power in any interaction of this kind and they're quite comfortable in their use of this power.

Maybe not all officers are that extreme but I'm exaggerating a little to make my point.

Frames which we set for ourselves or which other people set for us, influence each and every interaction we have--whether it be business, personal, romantic, or other.

I'm not suggesting that every of our interactions is a power trip but simply that when we approach a situation, we have to have our resolve set and our intentions in place. My approach with a new student would never be, "Well, I suppose I could help you learn to increase your sales with some ideas about persuasion." No way! First off, I know full well that I can teach anyone to increase their sales and I'm not in any way shy about being able to do that. If I were shy about my ability to help people, I wouldn't be worth my salt as a persuader.

Our ability to frame is what we can use to control the situations we're involved in. Extending that to any area of our lives, we see exactly how frames operate and dictate the behavior of those around us and can moderate our responses as the interaction takes place.

We have the frame of the sales person and the prospective client. One frame that operates is, 'Prove to me why I need you or why I should use you.' That might be a frame that the client is coming from. A frame that the adviser might adopt might be, 'I am the expert in this field and so I work with people who understand that and can take advantage of what I tell them.'

But supposing you came from the frame of, 'I'm really not anybody. I'm just kind of trying to survive here. I don't know a whole lot, really. I just sort of represent a couple of companies that years ago, I guess I somehow lucked into my license and I represent a couple of companies that have a few things available and maybe there's something you want.'

Would you sign up with that guy? Heck no.

Before your next meeting, think about the frames that you're using when you meet with the people around you.
About the Author
Kenrick Cleveland teaches strategies to earn the business of affluent clients using persuasion. He runs public and private seminars and offers home study courses and coaching programs in persuasion strategies.
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