Framing Communication

A little thought up front can go a long way

By Marc Joseph  |   May 14, 2015

Have you ever noticed that some people are more successful at getting their point across than others? Yes, of course, some of us are better communicators and some of us feel more comfortable in front of certain people and groups for lots of reasons. However, as leaders, one of our most important roles is that of a communicator. Leaders are expected to bring clarity to vagueness and to help their teams understand things that often seem, and which may actually be, quite nebulous. A leader’s work is to guide and, at times, persuade others in reaching a goal.

How can we, as leaders, be more effective communicators? We do this by taking the time to frame our communications into concepts that can be easily understood. We pick the right words to paint a picture that people can relate to. I call this “framing” your conversation, and it takes time and practice.

First, put some thought into what you want to say. Then spend some time anticipating how your communication may be received by others. If you do a little brainstorming in advance, youre likely to hit on many of the questions that could potentially be asked.

Good communicators know what they’re talking about! Take the time to consider your issue, in depth, before speaking. Just think about how nice it will be to have a conversation by giving the issue some extensive forethought. Also, do not be afraid to bring your brain trust together to help you role play. Many times we will not be able to anticipate the potential responses or questions of others.

We all like to get it right the first time, but thats not realistic. Sometimes, if you get your message wrong on the first attempt, you can reframe your comments the next time. However, there are times when, no matter what you say, it may be too late. The main point that I am trying to make is to frame your conversations, when you can, and don’t go about your days ignoring the chance to prime your mind before you speak.

Let me demonstrate a simple example of framing in the following scenario.

Selling the Goods
Team Member A decided to approach his supervisor about an idea for reducing the amount of time spent completing reports. The idea is good, but Team Member A presented the recommendation based upon his own concerns, with limited exploration of how the recommendation can benefit the entire department and the community. The supervisor thanked him for his input, but never went any further with the recommendation.

On a later date, Team Member B brings the same idea to the same supervisor. However, Team Member B has given the concept some forethought and even asked others for their input. Team Member B presented less self-concerns and more compelling information that demonstrated how the change recommendation can help all members on the agency by increasing efficiency and ultimately helping the agency be more responsive to the community. The supervisor has now taken interest and wants to help Team Member B champion the cause.

Wow, the same concept framed differently! Amazing what a little energy on the front end can do to help a person more effectively sell a concept.



Remember: The way that we communicate, what we say, how we say it, and our body language, all get some consideration by the receiver. Consciously make the time to prepare how you will frame a topic on the front end: prime your mind. The end result may be a much more positive outcome. Additionally, people will notice that your communications skills have risen to the next level.



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Marc Joseph
Marc Joseph recently retired as a 26-year veteran of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD). Marc has an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice, a bachelor’s degree in Administrative Leadership, and a master’s in Administrative Leadership.
Marc Joseph

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