Reframing for Problem Solving (To See Things Differently)
What is Reframing? How Is It Useful?
Reframing is seeing the current situation from a different perspective, which
can be tremendously helpful in solving problems, making decision and learning.
When people get stuck in a recurring issue, for example in a complex situation
or in solving a complex problem, it is rarely because they are missing a certain
step-by-step procedure to fix things. Instead, it is often because they are
stuck in how they see situation.
For example, a person might be working hard to find a good time management
course, because he has signed up for many courses but they rarely seem to improve
how he spends his time. If, instead, he closely examines the causes of his time-management
problem, he might find that the real problem is that he is never implementing
any of the suggestions made during those courses. He has reframed what the solution
to his problem really is.
The aim of reframing is also to shift one’s perspective to be more empowered
to act – and hopefully to learn at the same time. Also, many times, merely reframing
one’s perspective on a situation can also help people change how they feel about
the situation, as well. Many fields regularly use reframing, including therapy,
coaching and even marketing and sales. Techniques of reframing can also be used
to cultivate creative and critical thinking skills.
When working to reframe perspective on a situation, consider the following
basic guidelines. Keep in mind that, even though the following examples are
about another person’s comments, you can use the guidelines to shift your own
perspectives, as well.
Shift from passive to active voice
For example, if the other person said, “I just can’t seem to get past this,”
you might respond, “What is one small step you might take?”
Shift from negative feeling to positive feeling
For example, if the other person said, “I don’t want to work on that now because
it makes me feel sad,” you might respond, “What small part of that might you
work on for now, that might even leave you feeling a bit more happy?”
Shift from past to future voice
For example, if the other person said, “I’ve never been good at public speaking,”
you might respond, “If you imagined yourself to be successful at public speaking,
how would you be speaking that would be successful?”
Shift from future to past voice
For example, if the other person said, “I can’t seem to get started on achieving
this goal,” you might respond, “Has there been a time in the past when you achieved
a goal and, if so, what did you do back then to be successful? How might you
use that approach now?”
Shift from focusing on others to oneself
For example, if the other person said, “They don’t seem to like me,” you might
respond, “What do you like about yourself?”
Shift from a liability mindset to an asset
For example, if the other person said, “I’m such a perfectionist,” you might
respond, “How might being a perfectionist help in your job and life, though?”
Shift from victimization viewpoint to empowerment
For example, if the other person said, “That always seems to happen to me,”
you might respond, “Sometimes we even do that to ourselves. Perhaps it’d be
useful to explore if you’re somehow doing that to yourself, too?”
Additional Perspectives on Reframing
Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to This Topic
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