The one tool every politician uses – and how you can improve your communication with it

Setting the scope

You may have heard of the saying ‘it is not what you say, it is how you say it’. Well, there is plenty of wisdom that can be derived from this saying.

Words can have different meanings according to the context in which they are used as well as tone of voice, listeners’ interpretation, and accompanying gestures and movement. However, words themselves can be used to give a context-specific meaning.

This article is to provide some insight into how you can do this yourself.

There is a powerful tool that exceptionally effective communicators use to contextualise their communication called ‘Framing’, which started in the field of NLP and has since generalised, partly due to linguist George Lakoff’s work with USA political parties.

A well set up frame defines the limits, boundaries, and scope of the communication process at hand, and provided it is done properly, it will make it more efficient by keeping participants on track, provided that clear intentions have been set beforehand.

A good example of this can be found in the article published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR) article by Cas R. Sustein and Reid Hastie: Making Dumb Groups Smarter.

The article reads, “Framing effects influence our decisions according to the semantics of how the options are presented. For example, people are more likely to agree to an operation if they are told that 90% of people are alive after 5 years than if they are told that 10% of people are dead after 5 years.”

How influential can that be?

By framing ideas to direct people’s attention where you want it, you can use your words to invite your audience to concentrate on what really matters (your intention) in the process.

Just as a physical context can provide cues to where you should place your attention in a situation, so can your words if used with care and skill.

An essential part of any proper NLP training consists of attention training. You need to be able to put your attention on the things that matter and make a difference (having a clear intention) in order to direct your audience’s attention effectively.

Now it is your turn! Now that you are aware of this, think about different ways in which you can frame things that you normally would not question while keeping in mind your intention.

Edited by Jules Collingwood, NLP Trainer at INSPIRITIVE

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