Are people’s words causing bruises?

Is friction becoming more serious?

Want a way to turn from drama to delivery?

A True Story To Give Context

Their work relationship was breaking down.

She’d begin with:

“You’re no longer a team player. You’re ploughing a lone furrow”

and followed it up with an entire list of criticisms!

In his shock, he’d repeated his notes back to her to prove he’d listened. That was as far as they’d got before they’d run out of time.

They agreed to meet again to allow him to respond.

She felt better, he felt bruised

In the pause between meetings, she’d told him that she felt better, that this would make the team stronger. He reported feeling hurt and bruised by someone he trusted and valued highly.

What he really wanted? To treat her to some of her own medicine to see how she liked it!

This is what mediators call ‘the spark’. Left unchecked, these small frictions are often fan into the flames of a much more serious situation.

There are a wide range of conflict-handling tools available, but in this case ‘reframing’ seemed to be the key that would unlock almost everything.

So what is reframing?

Have you ever had a painting cleaned up and reframed? It’s the same painting and yet it isn’t. It has changed. You see the artwork in a different way.

In the same way, you can alter a sentence so that whilst it means the same thing, you receive it in a much more positive way.

Examples for this true story:

Example 1

“You’re no longer a team player”
reframed became
“I would like it if we can work as a team.“

This is an example of reframing into a “I would like it if…” request

Example 2

“You’re ploughing a lone furrow”
reframed became
“Why are you taking on these big challenges all by yourself?”

This is an example of reframing into a question that will help you discover what is at the crux of the issue.

Advanced techniques: Using the same analogy

A very powerful technique is to reframe using exactly the same analogy they have used.

Example for this true story

“You’re ploughing a lone furrow”
reframed becomes
“Could we plough the field together? As well as being faster, it would be more fun, too.”

Back to our true story

Just reformatting the sentences had a profound effect. They started seeing the problem differently. They began exploring the assumptions they’d made.

With a fresh burst of energy they created their own questions and requests and became excited about some of the opportunities this was generating.

They moved from energy-sapping drama to energy-filled delivery.

How can this help you?

How can you use reframing to unlock some difficult situations in your business?