Imagine you have a wonderful photo that you’d like to display. You take it to a picture framer to have it professionally mounted and she asks you what kind of frame you’d like.
‘I usually go for a plain black frame,’ you say, ‘but what would you suggest?’
The framer grabs a load of different frames and mounts and you spend some time combining them: an ornate frame with no mount; a stark black frame with a deep white mount; an acrylic frame with no edges. As you do so, you see that different combinations show off different aspects of the photo: some pick up the key colour in the picture, others give a sense of depth to the picture and help it really stand out.
Different frames give different effects.
So it is in everyday life too. We all have frames of reference: a set of criteria or assumptions which we use to filter what we observe in order to evaluate them. Frames of reference might be based on background, values, experiences, personality or preferences.
In short, a frame of reference is the story we tell ourselves. Sometimes those stories are incorrect; sometimes they’re unhelpful. You see a colleague in a suit when he normally dresses really casually. ‘Must be going for an interview,’ you think. Maybe. Perhaps he’s going to see his bank manager at lunchtime. Maybe he’s come from a funeral.
When we come up against an issue, it can be helpful to re-frame it and examine whether there’s another way of looking at the situation.
How do you reframe a situation?
It’s a technique I use with my coaching clients and here are just some of the questions we work through:
- What’s another way to view this that’s just as likely to be true but more beneficial?
- What assumptions am I making about the people involved?
- What boundaries have I imposed on myself?
- What if I look at this problem from the other person’s perspective? What do I see?
- What’s the worst possible solution to this issue?
- What’s the impact if we don’t solve this? Is it worth our time and effort?
- What are we actually trying to achieve? (sometimes the immediate issue is masking the real problem: ‘I need to find a bigger bucket for the hallway’ vs ‘there’s a hole in the roof’)
Today’s pebble for you to ponder: could re-framing help you find a new perspective on an issue?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
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