There have been times in your life when people tried to convince you that what they were offering was better than it seemed:
- Remember that time an unscrupulous used car salesman pitched a lemon at you, he called the high price tag an “investment.” Investment… that didn’t sound so bad, did it? You see, he gift-wrapped his words.
- When you were fired, they called it a strategic downsizing. Now that didn’t make you any better off… but it sure sounded nicer than being “fired.”
They were using euphemisms to mold your perception. Euphemism (the use of a pleasant, polite or harmless-sounding word or expression to mask harsh, rude or infamous truths) is an efficient linguistic tactic to counter objections. The key is to redefine certain words in an antagonist’s statement so that his objection no longer seems so overwhelming.
Through this redefinition we create new “frame” meanings about a behavior by re-labeling a key word that’s part of the belief statement. The technical explanation sounds confusing, but the process is really simple in practice. The relabeling frames the entire belief statement with a new meaning. Simply put this is called reframing.
Redefinition asserts that “X doesn’t mean Y, it means Z” Since X = Z and not Y, we now have a totally new belief statement – hopefully a more empowering one. Here are some questions you can use to test yourself with to increase your flexibility at reframing:
- What meanings have other people given to this objection/ belief
- What other meanings could I attribute this behavior?
- What value could this belief have in other nations or cultures?
Now, here is the secret to reframing: Simply replace one of the key words in the argument so that it subtly changes the sentence’s meaning. The following three phrases will help you to see the change reframing makes.
1. “It doesn’t mean x, it means y”
2. “It doesn’t cause x,” it causes y”
3. “If you really want to see a case of x, consider…”
Let me give you some examples of reframing, after all, seeing is believing. Then (ahem, while we are on cliches) you can practice because we all know that makes perfect. (And, in the case of reframing, could make for more communication, sales and increased revenues…)
Objection: You were too tough on your employees; it’s unkind! How do you expect to motivate them?
Answer: I agree that they might be hurt at first. But tough words also have their place. In this instance, I’m actually not criticizing without just cause. I’m simply expressing my feelings so they’ll know where I stand. Would you rather I lied? You believe in real conversation, don’t you?
Of course, I am not suggesting you emulate the ol’ snakeskin salesman trying to sell an inferior product or service. But I do suggest that you identify the objections your prospects might have and help them reframe their perspective to see the benefits of what you offer. Perceptions really do drive behavior – sales or lack thereof… think about it.
Remove the limitations of your beliefs – and theirs! Pop off that lid!
To your success!
P.S. If you would like to talk about how you might be limited by the lid either real or perceive real… click here.