Don’t these phrases automatically fill you with dread … “You’re fired”, “I’ve got some bad news …”, “Now, this is difficult to say, but …”, “Can you sit down, I’ve got something to say…” and the classic “What do you want first, the good or bad news?” Now, you’re about to learn just TWO WORDS that will change the way you communicate forever.
Before I begin this regular column on communication, both verbal and non-verbal, I’d like to share a little trick with you. You know, the sort of trick that smart motivational coaches offer on their $1000 workshops. The sort of trick that puts you in control of what you’re saying, and how the other person responds. This is the kind of thing – and imagine what you could do if you could control your communication in a way that always got you the results you wanted – that everyone wants to learn, don’t you think? Well, here it is.
Notice that I began this column with a suggestion already? And then I gave some really helpful examples to move you into a particular state – the negative state that was suggested? That’s really effective communication, but pretty craptastic. It is unfortunately the language pattern of doctors, policemen, teachers and everyone else who is the worst type of person to have that pattern. “I don’t want to worry you …”, “It’s nothing serious, but …”
The unconscious cannot process these negatives – it has to process the state automatically to know what you’re telling it not to do. “Don’t think of a camel, particularly a camel on a motorbike”. It’s really annoying, and the people around you who do this all the time need to know what they are doing to your unconscious – it’s like being surrounded by the worst hypnotists in the world.
But we did something else too, whilst your unconscious was busy processing that negative state. We started the column with the line “before I begin …” and then off we went, beginning already.
This is a powerful language pattern often used on radio, as in “before I begin today’s show I’d like to tell you about something that happened this morning …”. So, what’s its purpose, this outright lie that we seem to get away with saying? Well, it’s main purpose is to frame our communication, and that’s what I’d like to teach you in this first column of ManTalk – framing what you are saying.
Reframing is a part of NLP, which is Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a form of therapy and communications skillset derived from hypnotherapy in the 80’s onwards by Richard Bandler and John Grinder. It is taught on sales courses, presentation courses, in schools as the spelling strategy, to trainers, teachers, dentists – I’ve even taught it to horse-whisperers and jet fighter pilots. In these regular columns, we’re going to see how you can apply it every day to ramp up your communication skills – and then you can tell us all how it went for you!
So here’s our first language pattern – pre-framing in two words. It works like this (“here’s the science bit”):
BEFORE I [X] … [NOT X]
That’s to say, when you frame a sentence with “Before I”, it implies automatically that what follows is not the thing you’ve said, because that is coming later. And of course, it never does – the show has already started, despite what the announcer says. As ever, you’ll get it as soon as you hear it. Here’s some examples:
“Before we talk about anything too risque, what’s your favourite fantasy?”
“Before we get down and dirty with hard negotiations, what’s really your lowest price?”
“Before I say something upsetting, can I mention about your sister?”
And a more subtle, “Before you realise how nice it is, try this …”
Fun, huh? Have a play with it, see what works and what doesn’t work. Always make sure you are controlling the frame, by being in a communication that is positive and with the best outcome for everyone. One of the main things we teach in NLP is that we are responsible for the feedback we receive, and totally responsible for the results of our communication. That’s a pretty darned lesson, and even whilst it may not be true, it keeps us sharp with what we say.
ManTalk Team, I salute you – go out there and re-frame your life.