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Meaning reframe

Context reframing is indirect in that the change in meaning is achieved as a consequence of placing the ‘problem’ experience in an alternative context.

In the commonly experienced context of every day road use the speeding driver may be considered by other drivers to be a reckless maniac. In the context of that driver being behind the wheel of a fire engine or other emergency vehicle and striving to deliver emergency aid as quickly as possible the meaning of his speed changes.

In a meaning reframe the context remains static and the meaning is changed directly, and consequently our responses change.

Some simple examples:-

Problems become challenges, opportunities for action or opportunities for learning and developing new skills.

Laziness becomes our ability to relax, to enjoy comfort and to calmly focus our energy exclusively and precisely on only things which most deserve our attention.

Intrusive prying becomes curiosity, eager fascination or a healthy thirst for knowledge.

Fear, by alerting us to and keeping us away from danger becomes a means of protection.

Solitude becomes precious ‘me’ time.

Meaning reframes are such a common and frequently occurring part of our everyday experience that often we need only change a single word in our description of an experience in order to change the meaning of that experience significantly. If you find that difficult to believe, a short while spent studying a thesaurus should be sufficient to convince you of this fact.

A meaning reframe can be usefully delivered in response to a cause-and-effect statement (whenever x happens I respond y) or a complex equivalence - where one thing means another, for example:-

  1. He doesn’t like me – he’s always criticising my work.
  1. It’s too late now – all the best stuff will have been taken.
  1. Job interviews always make me nervous.

To assist you in developing a meaning reframe which will have maximum impact on this person you could ask yourself questions such as:-

Or simply:-

Following this pattern, useful reframes to the examples above could include:-

  1. He obviously cares enough about you enough to assist you in ensuring that you perform to the best of your ability.
  1. Sure, the early bird catches the worm, but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese (from the mouse trap)! How many of those people who made rush purchases really got the best deal? How many of them will be truly happy with their purchase when they get home? Every smart consumer knows that the best bargains are always to be had at the end of the day.
  1. Imagine how unimpressed the interviewer would be if you went into the interview looking half asleep, or with an air of arrogant confidence. A little bit of nervousness lets the interviewer know that you really care about this job.

The ‘I wish I’d said...’ moment is an experience that many of us have had when we’ve had a discussion which didn’t go quite the way we would have wished. After the event, with the benefit of hindsight, a killer response invariably springs to mind which, had we uttered it, would have convinced the other person that our point of view was better, more accurate, more relevant the whole time.

With practice those ‘killer responses’ or reframes as they are known in NLP can become more easily and more rapidly available to you so that you’ll be able to deliver them effectively and naturally whenever you choose.

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