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Use Re-Framing for Greater Results

This ONE TOOL will change the way you do everything. Sounds like clickbait, right? Well, consider that you’ve already clicked. The tool is described right now.

It is re-framing. It’s the practice of examining and redefining how we’re looking at a problem. Doing so can help us challenge presumptions, discover new solutions and help us move into actions that used to be considered off-limits. Re-framing is the multi-tool of skills. It works whether you’re fixing a broken appliance, figuring out your next contribution at your job or theorizing about how the universe works.

Spend more time examining your problem.

Move the goal posts.

Describe your outcome, regardless of how you’re going to get there.

Focus on your interests, not your position.

This re-framing concept just about covers anything I ever find worthwhile to talk about.

To further illustrate what I mean, here are few examples. The following scenarios typically result in us feeling limited, resigned to our fate and choosing not to say anything. I’ll share what a re-frame might look like and how it can result in different words and actions.


Problem: Being expected to do work you don’t believe in.

Can be re-framed as: I want to contribute my best to this organization and help it be successful.

Hey boss,

This is important, valuable work. I need to be clear with you, though, that it doesn’t energize me or get me excited to take on the next step. It’s only fair that I tell you because I’m confident that my engaged, discretionary effort yields a much higher return for you. I’d like to work with you to identify ways we can structure this work in a way that better motivates me or find other ways I can deliver what the organization needs to be successful.


Problem: Telling someone their actions were harmful to you.

Can be re-framed as: Helping a respected, intelligent adult see how they can be more effective.

Hey coworker,

Can I share some feedback with the desire that it helps you be more effective? When you made plans to speak with our customer without including me, I believe you missed an opportunity to use the insight and ideas I have for serving them. I know you have a lot going on and you likely didn’t know what you were missing. I feel responsible to tell you now so that, hopefully, I can provide more value in the future.


Problem: Applying and interviewing for a new job

Can be re-framed as: Examining to see if two valuable entities will benefit from collaborating.

Hey prospective employer,

I don’t have every skill and experience on your perfect wish list in the job ad. I have enough experience, however, to know that job descriptions simply can’t tell the whole story of what you need or what the future holds. I don’t see it as part of the requirements, but I’m suggesting my willingness to be honest and authentic should be valuable to you. You didn’t ask for it, but I’m also damn good at writing and enjoy doing it. For whatever comes next for the company, I’m the type of contributor that finds ways for my passion and skills to make us better.


Problem: This advice isn’t realistic. It doesn’t acknowledge that I desperately need a job, my friend or colleague may get upset or that my boss might fire me.

Can be re-framed as: I keep letting things slide that don’t sit right. Someday, somehow I need to change this pattern of accepting things that feel a little bit slimy and make it hard to fall asleep.

Hey… Self,

Every day we’re getting closer to retirement and it is getting harder to bring all the creativity and brilliance we have inside us. There’s a lot of days when we accept this inauthentic “game” as normal. Nevin’s examples are too simple, but he does [hopefully!] have a point. I know that you — excuse me, that we — feel safe, but long-term I don’t think we’re heading towards greater happiness. We have more to offer and we thought we’d be sharing it. We keep saying we’ll change, just not today. Should we set a date?

If any of this resonates with you and you want some help, the team at iQU will be pleased to work with you.



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