The Power Of Reframing

Lalita Raman

Have you been in meetings where you interpret something that has been said by your boss very differently from what one of your colleagues may have interpreted?
Have you had moments or days when you feel everything is going wrong, until you see someone else having a worse time which pales yours in comparison?
Have you observed situations where two people could have faced the same situation, yet one considers it as a challenge to be overcome whereas the other person dwells on it, complains about it and their body language and facial expression conveys that they are having one a nerve wrecking experience?
How many times have you for any small mistakes made, stated that “I have messed up” instead of “I made a mistake”?
When I coach leaders, executives and professionals, I hear negative statements about who they are or what they are not good at or what they cannot do. The cues is not only verbal but also in their body language and facial expressions.
When I listen to what is being said, the way it is being said and sense the cues, I ask of my clients to reframe the thought, the feeling, the fear in a positive way.

Reframing is the art of changing your thoughts, your inner talk and finding alternate ways to express an idea, a situation, a challenges or your inner fear.
Each of us have our challenges, our inner gremlin sitting on our shoulder and pulling us down and possibly teasing us. The idea of reframing a negative thought is not to shut out the fear but to change the mindset and approach the challenge with positive emotions. Reframing helps to approach a situation with a “positive” and “can do” approach rather than I’m no good at it.

“When we are positive, we become more motivated, engaged, creative, energetic, resilient and productive.” Positivity breeds positivity and vice versa. Reframing not only helps us with our emotions but also in the way our thoughts and words land on others. Reframing is useful in every part of the organization, be it you are a CEO, sales person, Human Resources, CFO, or any other representative of the firm.

Take a case where you are trying to determine with which securities firm you need to open an account with. In your first meeting with the person servicing you, all you get to hear is what their firm is good at, the range of products they have, the markets that they have a presence in, their market share. You sit there wondering how is any of this useful to you!? You have not been asked as to what you are looking for, what is your risk comfort level, what are you familiar with, what is your risk versus return profile. You decide that it was a waste of time and decide not to deal with the broker.
Now may be all that was presented to you had all of that information. However the way it was framed seemed to land on you as if they were pushing their own agenda. Reframing the same information that they had presented to you in a way that created a lens through which you felt you are the client and your needs are being understood would have made you want to deal with them.
Leaders can take a mundane idea and get people to buy in into their idea by reframing.
Before I start off with tips on reframing, I would like to share my story when I started my coaching journey. One of my strengths is Direct Communication. I’m known among my friends to be candid and someone who doesn’t mince her words. When I started my coaching journey, I realized that this strength of mine may not come across to the recipient as gentle and caring and my style could possibly be misconstrued. My intention in being direct is not to hurt someone and I realized that without compromising my value of being candid, I could convey the message by reframing.

How to reframe?

1. Make yourself aware of your thoughts – before you react to a situation, step back and figure out your inner thoughts or the feelings that created the thoughts. If those thoughts are arousing negative emotions, ask yourself what if I reframe it. What happens when you reframe your thoughts ? Learn to observe your thinking patterns and reflect.

2. Challenge – every time you feel like reacting to a situation, ask what is in that situation that aggravates you or puts you into a negative mode? How can you get over that? Is there a truth to the way you feel and how you feel?

3. Clarify – if you are in a meeting and you think you may have interpreted something differently from others, clarify before running away with your assumptions and jumping to a conclusion.

4. Mindfulness – being mindful in the moment of choice is many times easier said than done. However, as with anything new where our discomfort is high, first make yourself aware and then practice the art of being mindful consciously.

How has reframing helped you in your life so far?

What have you learnt from reframing?

Nothing can stop the person with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal. Nothing on earth can help the person with the wrong attitude.” Thomas Jefferson

For Coaching, Facilitating and Speaking Connect. About Lalita Raman


  1. says

    Many years ago I made a mistake the greatly offended someone and there was severe action in the wake of my honestly innocent action that had the best intentions. At first (once my head stopped spinning) I wanted to try to explain, make it right but by reframing it I was able to see that their response was honestly out of my control and I was better able to see that moving forward in other situations too. Reframing is powerful. Thanks for sharing some guides to make it more intentional too.

    • says

      Thank you for sharing and bringing a beautiful perspective to the act of reframing. Despite Reframing, there are people who don’t change their perspective. They don’t want to reframe their thoughts and look at what they have received with a different mindset.
      I have been in similar situations as you have described Alli. When I reflect on what happened, I say to myself, may be they are in an emotional state where something else triggered in their brain causing their Amygdala hijack, thus causing them to not reframe how they receive something.

      Thank you Alli. I appreciate you sharing your story and your insight. Thank you

  2. says

    This is excellent Lalita! I think reframing is so relevant for every area of our lives. I use “tapping” as a personal tool for releasing old belief pattern that create negative energy – and reframing is vital to moving forward and seeing things with new energy and clarity. Reframing is truly a powerful tool.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

    • says

      Thank you Karen. Tapping pattern is something I have heard from my acupuncturist to release the bad chi or energy. Thank you for sharing that. I have not used for reflecting and releasing old belief pattern. Something I got to try :-). Thank you for visiting my blog, reading, sharing & commenting.


  3. says

    Great post, Lalilta. I learned framing when I worked at Deloitte and it is just an important practice. In a few other organizations, framing also was used as a practice. Getting this right can make such a difference in conversations and discussions. Reframing is equally important, yet may be practiced less. Great ideas on how to reframe… time to put them into action! Thanks. Jon

    • says

      I agree with you Jon. Framing is an essential part of the conversation. The “Power Of Framing” by Gail T Fairhurst as you may know is a superb book with some great insights on this topic.

      Framing & Reframing are essential for ourselves and others. Thank you Jon for your comment. I appreciate :).

  4. says

    Hi Lalita! Reframing is such an empowering exercise! In a way, it’s making a different assumption about a thing – one that makes you feel good!
    I like your steps for reframing. I think it’s important to take advantage of the situations which disturb us to understand both why we saw it in the way we did and why it disturbed us. Then we can reframe it, or maybe then we won’t have to.

    • says

      Thank you Lori. Reflection on the situation that disturbed us to understand as you point out is essential to understand the why.

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

18 − eleven =