Framing: the individual’s perception of the meanings attributed to words, phrases, events or actions.
How and why we think the way we do is based on our own preexisting beliefs, attitudes, and opinions.
Photo from Anne-Katrin Arnold & kfergos -Flicker
A key learning from the RYLA leadership camp I recently attended was the theory of framing, and how influential it is in every day life. We learnt that “thinking creates feeling creates behaviour”. The way you think about an event creates the way you feel about the event, and in turn reflects how you react. This can be both the immediate reaction, or how you feel and react years later.
For example if someone cuts you off when driving – what happens next?
You think: “Damn you! I’m in a hurry, I can’t believe you were so rude cutting in front of me”
You feel: Angry
Your behaviour: Beep your horn, yell at the driver etc.
You think: “Gosh I bet that person was scared when they realised how close they were to my car”
You feel: Relieved the cars didn’t collide, empathetic for the other driver
Your behaviour: More aware about your own driving and others on the road
In this example there are two completely different outcomes, solely based on the initial thought of the event. This demonstrates how your thought turns into your associated feeling which creates a reflective behaviour.
My experience at camp was a bit different to the driving example. It was during the afternoon activity after we had our session about framing.
There were a lot of wasps around, everyone was jumping and screaming when they came near. I was eating a filled roll and a wasp flew onto my roll, I simply just stood there calmly and said “oh would you please go away”, and as if it heard me it flew off. Someone noticed and said “gosh you are calm”, my response was “they’re only being friendly”. It turned out that was a perfect example of our learning’s about framing that morning; the way I perceived the wasps presence was different to that of my class mates, and instead of running around and angering the wasps I felt relaxed and had a calm reaction which meant the wasp just moved on.
My personal experience with the wasps and realisation of the framing I have has made me notice how different the people around me frame situations and it has reinforced my confidence in my positive attitude. My friends always used to refer to me as the bubbly, happy, positive person. Recently I thought I had been losing a bit of this positive expressive-ness, however, over the last week since finishing camp I have noticed that when talking about or interacting in an event I always have a positive frame around it. Luckily, this generally influences those around me to feel better about the event and simmers their reactions. Although, I have noticed with a few people, who have completely opposite framing, the transition from thinking – feeling – behaviour can happen so fast that there is no chance for a positive influence before they have reacted to the situation.
I feel this is a great learning as I will be able to use it beneficially in both my personal and professional life. By acknowledging how the people around me frame the events that happen to them, I can learn more about their deep seated core beliefs, as well as preempting their reaction in certain circumstances by changing the way I present the situation to them. The knowledge I now have of framing can lead to more mutually positive relationships in all areas of my life, and a greater understanding of individuals and their behaviours in general.