Yesterday I was telling you about how easy it is to take control of someone’s thoughts using frames. We didn’t mention the word frames but that would be the NLP Jargon Junkie term for it. Today I am going to give you a method of being able to disrupt anyone trying to do this to you.
The web version of the initial article is worth reading before embarking on this You can read it here:
The crux of the matter is whatever we discuss so long as you are holding the wider frame you will be in control. The example I used was an NLP Trainer setting up an exercise for their students.
The students think they are practising some of their techniques. But the trainer puts out some ground rules supposedly to make the exercise run smoothly but in essence, those rules are the things that the trainer wanted to embed with the students.
By having control of the wider frame the trainer is imposing a whole bunch of things on the students that completely bypasses their conscious awareness because they are focused on doing the exercise. And if the trainer had chosen to make a big thing of the exercise, perhaps getting them excited about the benefits, or giving the students lots of minute details over the instructions the students may never realise the wider picture.
Take Back Control of Your Mind
The rest of this article is about how you can spot and destabilise people playing these frame games. But before I go on it has to be noted this is happening whenever we communicate, and it is not always a bad thing.
The easiest way of spotting the frames that exist in any communications just start asking yourself the question what has to exist for this situation to be true for the person saying it. By doing this you will find lots of beliefs, frames and presuppositions that are inherent that are not necessarily true.
Where can I practice?
Political statements are great for practising this sort of thing. For example the UK, where I live we have just had a referendum to decide whether we should stay “in” or “out” of the European Union (EU). The obvious thing for the vote to have any meaning is a boundary that you can be “in” or “out” of.
This makes the issue seem simple. But when you look at the reality the UK is not completely “in” the European Union. There are several key agreements that member states in the Union have signed up to that the UK are not part of.
And regarding leaving the Union, the “out” supporters still want a range of trade, cooperation and support deals that are tighter than the Union has with countries outside the Union.
So for both sides, the in / out vote is a simplification that has no real meaning outside the confines of the referendum. I hope this is also giving you some idea on how you can start to challenge frames.
Challenge the Unobserved
So sticking with this example if we took a person keen on voting in the referendum and wanted to disrupt their thinking we could challenge the things that are outside the frame. We could ask them to define in or out of the EU and how that works in connection with the vote.
Another way we could ask what else are we ignoring while being focused on debating the referendum.
In both cases, once we can get them talking about the wider perspective we have the opportunity to distract or change from the original discussion. And simply asking questions concerning the larger frame you create movement and discussion that is larger than the original context.
Create a New Discussion
So let’s bring this back to a more practical level.
A tactic my business associate and I use on each other when we get into big political discussions in the office is to ask the question, “And how much money is that making us?”
It is a question about a frame that is outside the one were originally discussing and is closer to the purpose of why we are there.
Meanwhile Back in the Exercise
When I saw the trainer set out their belief change I noticed the wider frame.
It was a good exercise and the frames were worthwhile so it would not have been fair to wreck it just for the sake of experiment. That said, my initial intervention was a little more powerful and it worked a little better than I expected. Here is what I did.
I started with an outright pattern interrupt that directly challenged one of the larger frames. This is a great place to start because it shocks people out of their trance and gets them to look at the bigger picture. Imagine what happens to a person that has been thinking about which way to vote in the referendum and you suddenly pop the point that neither “in” nor “out” exist.
Once the frame is disrupted it is easy to shift the conversation. The best way to do it would be to ask a question about the larger frame. I didn’t do that because I didn’t actually want to disrupt the exercise. I just wanted to demonstrate the approach to disrupting it.
But the thing was my pattern interrupt was strong enough to get people to start commenting on that. If disruption and movement to a different topic was my intention, it would have been easy from there. Because the discussion had moved from the exercise to the value of the larger frame that I had attacked. If I had kept the attention on that the original exercise would have been completely forgotten.
As it was, I kept reasserting that their comments moved them further from the original exercise and my very intention was to demonstrate how easy it is to do that. So by commenting on that level they are further proving my point, and perhaps they could now go back to the original exercise.
Can you turn this into a process that I can apply?
The smart way of doing this is setting your audience up with the original frame then reframing it to a larger perspective and then moving the conversation on from there. All the while installing the belief and idea that hold the whole thing in place.
It sounds more complex than it really is. The way to do it is to have a process. I have that process fully deconstructed, written down and you can watch a video of me applying it to some students right here on the Lancaster University Persuasion Skills Lecture Deconstructed.
My notes cover how you can apply the same approach in one on one conversations. Click here and read more.