Coaching Skills For Leaders

Unleashing Transformation: The Power of Reframing and Pre-Framing for Enhanced Leadership and Growth

October 22, 2023 Neil Thubron and Jana Hendrickson
Coaching Skills For Leaders
Unleashing Transformation: The Power of Reframing and Pre-Framing for Enhanced Leadership and Growth
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Are you ready to unleash the transformative power of reframing and pre-framing in your leadership style? We guarantee that by the end of this episode, you'll be viewing even the most challenging situations as opportunities for growth. Your hosts, Jana Henderson and Neil Thubron, take you on a deep exploration of these critical coaching tools, showing how they can pre-frame conversations to focus more on development than criticism. We'll also delve into turning potential obstacles into empowering situations, beneficial whether you're a leader, a salesperson, or even a stay-at-home parent.

The episode continues as we delve further into the impact of reframing and pre-framing on leadership and initiating positive change. Learn how to shift your mindset from negativity to more constructive thoughts, while also gaining fresh perspectives by detaching from situations. Moreover, we'll talk about the importance of embracing change, and how reframing can help you break away from self-limiting beliefs. Don't miss out on this enlightening conversation on the power of perspective and growth and the transformative impact it can have on your leadership style.

Neil Thubron:

Welcome to the Coaching Skills for Leaders podcast with Jana Henderson and Neil Thubberon. The purpose of the podcast is to help leaders anywhere develop their coaching skills to transform the lives of those they lead, as well as their own. Welcome to another episode of Coaching Skills for Leaders with Neil and Jana. Jana, good to see you today. How?

Jana Hendrickson:

are you, you too? Thank you, I'm really well. It's finally summer here in Michigan, so all is good.

Neil Thubron:

Yeah, and here as well. Actually, we had a big thunderstorm this morning. I absolutely drenched walking down to a meeting this morning, but it's beautiful now and we needed the rain because it's been really dry here. Totally Same as last week and what's great about the rain, and what are we talking about today?

Jana Hendrickson:

We're just immediately applying our concept that we're bringing to you today, which is all about reframing and pre-framing and deframing the specialist coaching tools to really help make good out of any bad situation. Isn't that right? Including the rainy weather.

Neil Thubron:

Absolutely yeah. Yeah, because the great thing about being out in the rain is you get that lovely cooling feeling when you get soaking wet and you feel really fresh after this, so good.

Jana Hendrickson:

Yeah, we just.

Neil Thubron:

Go on. Sorry, I'm doing this sailing trip this round, the world sailing trip, and on the hot legs of the sailing trip, when they have heavy rain because there's limited water on board, it's an opportunity to have a shower. So they really look forward to the heavy rain. So that's a classic reframe of a situation.

Jana Hendrickson:

That's one way of thinking about it. For sure, I don't know that I'll swap out heavy rains for my lovely shower anytime soon, but we will give you some really cool ideas to use in your daily business life. Today, dear leaders and you are I can tell you ahead of time you're already doing the thing that we're talking about. Even though you might not call it reframing or pre-framing, most people kind of do it in one way or another. However, what we are highlighting today is to use these techniques in a way that really improves the situation interpretation or kind of just creating more possibilities, because we are also, unfortunately, very, very good at pre-framing, especially in a negative way.

Jana Hendrickson:

One way that I will never forget was when I was first working at for my old boss, tony Robbins, and we were doing advanced skills training, and I raised my hands in the training and I said excuse me, I know I have one more question.

Jana Hendrickson:

I'm sorry if it's.

Jana Hendrickson:

You know I'm just here and asking more and more questions I don't want to be sounding, you know, stupid or take up too much time, that sort of thing and my teacher stopped me with the big hand up right away and explained to me that what I had just done was pre-frame my own question for everybody to think that I was going to ask stupid questions or that I'm asking too many questions, which I could have left out entirely and nobody would have thought anything about me asking yet another question.

Jana Hendrickson:

So this is a perfect example of where we're using pre-frames in a negative way, for example right, instead of actually in an empowered way. And we are going to talk about it today in the business context, certainly in the sales context, where this comes up all the time, and, of course, in our own thinking, where we're, you know, sometimes disempowering ourselves, sometimes empowering ourselves. I know, for example, being a mom. There are so many moms that would pre-frame themselves as being just a mom, with that little word just, you know in there, or a stay at home mom, or whatever. So we do this all the time, and that's what we're talking about today.

Neil Thubron:

And I think that in a coaching context so coaching skills for leaders this is going to be really powerful to notice in people when they come and sit down with you, when they talk to it or it could be people, could be customers, could be anyone you are engaging with and being able to notice when someone is pre-framing that's not serving them, because you can pre-frame when it serves you and pre-frame when it doesn't serve you and then help them to reframe in a more positive way to help them through that problem. So that's why it's so relevant in coaching to have this as a skill. And actually and Yana, you've just used a great example for pre-framing and what I hear regularly is when someone stands up in front of an audience to speak and they'll say you know, I'm sorry about the slides being a bit busy, or you know, I'm not used to standing up and speaking real, so immediately they're pre-framing themselves as not a regular speaker or someone who's got very busy slides and that happens.

Jana Hendrickson:

And the people in the audience might have never thought anything about it. That's the worst part, right? Is that you're basically highlighting something negative that maybe people would have never noticed, and so it's really something that we want to do in order to shift the meaning of what's actually going on. Right, like that can be so, so critical, and we can, you know, even make light of what we might feel like is, you know, a challenge by way of pre-framing it just a lot better.

Neil Thubron:

Last week we were talking about coaching for performance. Actually, if you pre-frame a conversation where you're going to help someone, maybe focus on something they're not so good at, then you could pre-frame that with how much you value them and how much you value them as an employee and what they do for you, so that you're pre-framing the fact that this conversation is about helping you grow and helping you improve. It's not about criticising you or being negative about you. So you can use pre-framing to help in that kind of critical conversation.

Jana Hendrickson:

Absolutely, and it can be helped to resolve conflict in the workplace. It can be used to reduce feelings of burnout or overwhelm, so really there are so many uses that we will struggle to fit all the examples in here. But the whole point of reframing especially is to essentially deal with and overcome limiting beliefs and manage some change really effectively, navigating complex situations and adding a fresh perspective. It really is supposed to promote creativity, because we're really going in and we're like what else is possible? We're looking for the possibilities, the opportunities and what's great about things like you were leading in at the beginning of the call and it also, of course, fastest resilience and improves decision-making skills, so really really helpful.

Neil Thubron:

Because it allows someone to see something from it. Because typically you're trying to reframe a negative thought in someone, so you're trying to reframe it in a more positive way so that it shows them some light, it shows them the opportunity to move forward. Absolutely, I kind of think what's the model for reframing? How could you think of it as a model? I think it's almost like take a situation and almost imagine you're turning it around, so you're doing a 180 degree turn, so you're looking at it from the opposite way. That's visually how I kind of imagine reframing. Yeah, I was telling you when we started this conversation.

Neil Thubron:

I was having a conversation with a customer the other day about objections and they said one of the problems we have is our competition have lots of options available for their service solutions. They have all these different options available and we only have three. Well, isn't that great that you've only got three. That's so easy for the customer to make a decision. It's not confusing. They don't have to go through this decision of looking at 10 different options when you've only got three. You've already made it easy for that customer. That's right. So I'm kind of looking at it from a 180 degree view of why that might be a good thing.

Jana Hendrickson:

Yeah, absolutely. I think there are really just three steps, right, when we look at how we can even get our head, our coaching mindset, into reframing and pre-framing stuff, which is that we want to first become aware of the thought. That is unhelpful at the very least, right? I don't want to go into judgment whether it's good or bad or right or wrong, but really it's sometimes unhelpful. And so, instead of there really is a bit of an art and a practice in pausing to notice even what one oneself has just said, right, because it's often so unconscious. So really, that's, I think, the most critical step is to notice the thought and then, as you said, whether you use a 180 kind of turn of view or you just simply question the thought without judging it, you're just kind of looking at it and think about where.

Jana Hendrickson:

So, let's say, for example, you're in a situation where your boss has said something to you and you're just simply looking at, well, what exactly did he or she actually say to me, what kind of comments were positives and what kind of things was said that was being critical, because aren't we all so great at just basically listening to the negative feedback, right? And so really pausing and questioning the thought of like oh great, like clearly I had a bad assessment or I didn't do a good job or whatever I'm not good at my job To look at, well, what did they actually say? And go and backtrack on the things that they said, because likely there was something positive in there as well as the thing that we want to focus on, to improve, and then we want to replace, as a third part, the unhelpful thought with something just that is just more helpful. So you might think, in this situation of the work assessment, I've done a lot of good work this year. My boss noticed it. Yeah, there was an area that she thought I could improve on, and here's some ideas of how I can improve that area or how I can get stronger.

Neil Thubron:

Right, yeah, and isn't it great that I was able to be given some areas to develop? Because it would be awful if I was just told I was growing in everything and I had no area to improve it. Right, I'd be pretty worried.

Jana Hendrickson:

I'd be pretty worried. And where else do you head, right?

Neil Thubron:

Exactly yeah, and actually there was a study done a while back about feedback from employees, and employees liked working for leaders that gave them feedback on how they can improve. Just as a side note, that's a really important element of why people stay with leaders was because they get given feedback on how they can improve rather than just great feedback all the time.

Jana Hendrickson:

Totally. Isn't it so interesting, even as its own area of application? Giving feedback Because you can use reframing and de-framing and pre-framing very well. And giving feedback because I swear that there's a difference in what you just shared about how the leaders giving that feedback for growth, Because if somebody is constantly nagging and criticizing about how you didn't do this or how you didn't do that, that is not what we perceive as the kind of feedback that would make us want to stay.

Jana Hendrickson:

The kind of feedback that would make us want to stay is when somebody is like hey, I spotted this and this and this and you're really great at these things and if you want to develop even further, here is ways that you could do that. Very different how that comes across. So when we're thinking about pre-framing or reframing, it's really about looking at the intent and making it a very positive intention as to how we communicate something, what the impact of that will be on the other person. Is it solution-oriented? Does it enhance our communication with the person? And are we really using it to emphasize the good stuff, emphasize collaboration, creativity, etc. Shared goals.

Neil Thubron:

Yeah, and I'm just thinking of great questions that you could ask to help someone reframe, because we've talked about in a sales environment. Reframe is used a lot around objection, hanging around, looking at what the way of customers are behaving and looking at it in a different way. And the question that comes into my mind and run this by you, is something like what could be great about this, how could this help us or what could be great about this? So, thinking, taking something like the customers said no three times to this project we've got, or they haven't made a decision, ok, what could be great about that? Or maybe that gives us longer to sell it. Maybe that's an opportunity for us to help them understand even more the value that we can deliver here. I wonder whether those are questions that could help. What other kind of questions do you think coaches could use?

Jana Hendrickson:

Yeah, absolutely. I think, before we move to more questions, I was just thinking, as you were speaking there, that even just how we think about sales is one massive area of pre-framing or reframing, because there's a difference in how we go about selling depending on the interpretation or the meaning that we give to the word and what it means. For me, it's really just about helping someone make a decision, and if I come to any sales conversation being absolutely OK, no matter whether it's a yes or no, if only the purpose of my conversation is to help the person make an empowered decision, it's never going to feel sleazy because I'm here for them and I'm here to support them make a great decision. And if the great decision is a no, perfect, then they have made a decision. It's something that was maybe difficult for them to arrive at by themselves.

Jana Hendrickson:

So even there is like how we approach. Anything is really, you know, can be very much changed by the way of how we interpret it, but in terms of questions, I think it's very situational, right. So what could be great about this can be a difficult one, for sometimes, when the circumstances seem really really hard and you're like, well, nothing is great here because everything sucks and I just got fired and it's just bad news and I'm going to lose my house and my wife right. Like it could be really really hard to ask that.

Jana Hendrickson:

But at the same time all those opportunities and all those opportunities in that scenario, new relationship, new home, new, job Totally get it, and it might be tricky for someone to see in the moment, right, so let's remember the scale where we help the person really just move from something really bad to maybe just a little bit better to begin with. And so I think there is there is some merit, of course, to asking what could be great about this or what's maybe good about this. But it could be simply like what else could this mean? How might someone else see this in this context? Like what would my always positive friend Joe make of the situation? What would I have thought about this if it happened five years down the line? Or if I could start over? What would that mean?

Jana Hendrickson:

But there's just different. It's very, very situation dependent, which is making it hard to just prompt with lots of questions. But really any reframing is looking for what else could this mean? And sometimes it's easier to dissociate oneself out of that equation and think about well, if I could have a conversation with my coach or the best mentor boss I ever had, or what if I could have a conversation, if I looked at this together with my sister or brother, how would they see it? What kind of assumptions would they make? What kind of solutions might they have?

Neil Thubron:

So you bring a third party in, so a third party looks at it in a different way, so you're stepping back and looking at the situation from a helicopter's point. I like that as an example. So it just occurs to me, actually, is reframing just about positive thinking? Because it feels like, as we're talking about this, we're shifting from a negative thought to a positive way of looking at that situation. I wonder whether is it just about shifting to a more positive view?

Jana Hendrickson:

Positive or helpful? I like to think of it as helpful. But the fundamental idea when this was first arrived and there's no originator of this whole concept of reframing, but it's definitely gained some more prominence through the work of Milton Erickson, the American psychiatrist and psychologist he used this a lot in therapy, hypnotherapy etc. It was about facilitating positive change. Yes, I think fundamentally the idea is that we are making something that is just challenging or somewhat unhelpful in the way we're thinking about something and moving it to something that is just more helpful. Obviously, it's a lot used in CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy about 50-200 years. There's definitely the fundamental idea that we want to make it better, but I guess better is always subjective or what could be more helpful?

Jana Hendrickson:

It might be that you're just having, let's say, something really negative happened. Somebody died that's close to you. You're not going to sit there and be like, oh, how can I reframe this death of my very favorite person into something more positive. But there is possibility there to even think about the meaning of their lives or how they will be remembered, or it's about, I guess, just creating additional meaning Besides one very definitive negative or unhelpful perspective.

Neil Thubron:

I guess within that there's also a caveat. When you're coaching someone around, this type of situation is they've got to want to move forward as well, and you can't reframe a situation like you just described if someone isn't ready or doesn't want to move forward. But if you've got someone sitting in your office and they're looking at you for help, then in a coaching style you could help them. Take that 180 degree view on it, look at it from a different angle, detach themselves, look at it as a third person, so if they want to. So I guess there's a preframe which is people have got to be ready to want to shift.

Jana Hendrickson:

Yeah, and I'm not sure that's always true. So think about situations where you have always believed one thing, about one, about something, a situation, right, like you've had a belief and you weren't even, like, aware of that belief, and then somebody looks at that in a completely different way and you weren't exactly open or choosing to have a new meaning, but it was so powerful in the moment that you were like, oh my God, yeah, I've never really seen it like that. So have you had moments like that? I certainly have, when it's absolutely nice.

Neil Thubron:

That's a really good point, because if you're blind to the fact that your belief or your opinion or your, you know, is not, is the, if you think it's the only way and that's how it is, then yeah, you may well be have blinkers on or have blind spots on to other ways of looking at it.

Jana Hendrickson:

It's like imagine you have this limiting belief about yourself that you're just not like you mentioned earlier. You're just not that great at presentations or at this one thing at work, and you have communicated as much and people around you know that and then, for some reason, somebody else says you know, there's this one thing that you always do because of the way that you think that I think makes the biggest positive, positive difference in this team, and you'd be like, wait, what Like? I do that? I never even thought about that and it takes power out of the negative belief that you've had, because suddenly you're being recognized for something that you didn't even think was a strength, right, so you can reframe, without an invitation, right, or a willingness, I simply taking the focus to something else or creating a completely new meaning, right, like.

Jana Hendrickson:

I remember, for example, something very powerful for me was and this is like a personal example, but when I witnessed somebody else's living with stage four cancer journey and she just had this statement sugar feeds cancer, that's it. And I was like, oh gosh, you know, like, clearly, every time I, you know, grab something that's sweet and sugary as a treat or as a food source, then I'm feeding something that I don't want to have Right Like. So that's a reframe. Sugar feeds cancer. Somebody else might say. Sure is the spice of life, or the you know whatever the nicest, you know the nicest thing in life. And so these are also reframes, right when that can be really really powerful shift. I know anybody who's been to a Tony Robbins event would have been inundated with reframes constantly.

Neil Thubron:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely yeah. And, to be honest, I love taking a situation and asking someone a reframe question and then I'm going yeah, actually I could look a little like that. And so the bottom line is for our leaders listening to this, reframing, reframing and reframing your tools to help shift the, the perspective, the mental perspective of a situation or a way someone's looking at something, and a very powerful tool to use and one that I highly recommend is you try well, you'll be doing it anyway as Jharni said at the beginning is being conscious of it and maybe trying to use it a little bit more to help people, with their own resources, find their own way of looking at something in a different way and finding a way forward that they hadn't thought of before.

Jana Hendrickson:

Yeah, I would certainly say that you're totally right. This is probably an unconscious competence or incompetence for some people listening, but the whole point of bringing it to the show is really to make it much more of a conscious competence so that you really are having the biggest positive impact with your reframes and pre-frames, as opposed to just doing it without even noticing. So the noticing of the thoughts, the noticing of how you speak to somebody about something, about your sales or sales teams like I swear, in every single meeting we unintentionally and unconsciously pre-frame things all the time, right of like oh here we go again, john didn't do the thing or you know, the sales performance is lagging behind, like we just do this all the time and just noticing even the impact of the not so helpful pre-frames and reframes. You know that could be a big shift for people to, you know, just in their personal leadership, I think, and people like working for leaders who make very empowered reframes, for sure.

Neil Thubron:

Yeah, absolutely yeah, because people feel great after it as well. There's a great feeling after you've been through that process.

Jana Hendrickson:

It's a feeling of possibility. It's a feeling of opportunity, of being clear, of creating something that is more empowered, more beneficial to everyone, and that's the whole point. You want to really affect positively anyone and everyone, and this is why it's so pertinent to leadership, right.

Neil Thubron:

Yeah, totally. I love the love, the term possibility and opportunity, because that's exactly what reframing does.

Jana Hendrickson:

Yeah, absolutely, and we haven't really hit on it much, but it's kind of like an often overlooked little side term the deframing piece, which is really where, as leaders that are encouraging, we just challenge and dismantle sometimes existing frames or existing cultural beliefs in a company, or you know, some sort of mental models, a little bit like I shared earlier, about how do we think about sales, right like so, really almost deconstructing what people think about a certain area or a certain piece of work that is maybe, at the time, hindering the progress, a little bit, right like so. Deframing is really just being very intentional, making some, you know, some challenges and questioning assumptions or biases or preconceived ideas. Like you know, I always think it's really interesting around, you know, hiring policies, for example, where you know how much do we have this kind of population reflected, this kind of population, moms, you know, or dads with children, or do we have this kind of people of color, etc. Etc. So this would be an area where probably a lot of deframing could do a lot of good.

Neil Thubron:

Right, so it's really creating more innovative solutions by way of challenging and questioning what's there to begin with yeah, yeah, and I think those three areas pre-framing and deframing sound a little more strategic and the reframing sounds a little more tactical, in your color, as I think through what we've just discussed. Yeah, I think that's good. So I you know, I think. Is there anything else you'd like to cover on this topic?

Jana Hendrickson:

no, I think, I think that's really it. I would highlight that really there's two distinct purposes. One is to do this all internally right, to do this work on yourself, to notice where your own thoughts are impeding and maybe could be doing with some reframing themselves, and then to do this intentionally outside and your personal leadership and how you show up at work, how you manage your people, how you having, how you're having those conversations whether it's with staff or with clients, customers right and becoming just really practiced and masterful at it yeah, and so I'm going to leave a thought then with everyone, which is when it rains, go and dance in the rain and enjoy the time.

Neil Thubron:

Enjoy it until the sun comes out. Absolutely so. Thank you, yana. Another great conversation. Really enjoyed that conversation today yeah, thank you too.

Jana Hendrickson:

I think it's just something that we had spoken about or mentioned a lot, especially when we talk about belief. Work and changing thoughts is a very powerful tool and one that I think you know everybody could do with being just much more intentional about, especially when pre-framing themselves and their own communication right. That could be a big change to somebody's leadership, so we definitely wanted you to have it in your tool belt, and thank you so much for listening. Let us know how this landed with you, what you've tried out, and we look forward to seeing you next time yeah, thank you everyone.

Neil Thubron:

Thank you for listening to coaching skills for leaders podcast with yana and neil. If you found the conversation useful, please share with your colleagues and friends. Please also leave us a rating and a review and if you would like to connect with us directly to discuss your own or your business needs, you will find our contact details in the show notes below.

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Reframing Objections and Positive Communication
The Power of Reframing in Leadership