Communication 101: the importance of reframing

People & Culture

I recently took a course in mediation. What an eye opener. Watching my instructor masterfully manage a conversation in a way that I’ve never seen made me abundantly aware of the skill it takes to guide people through conflict to a collaborative solution.

What I took from this course was beyond anything I could capture in a blog but one thing I want to touch on is the skill of reframing. Reframing takes a statement made or an assumption and places it in a different way that removes adversarial tendencies or assumptions.

With the amount of work I’ve done around conflict in the workplace and aligning teams I really thought I had it nailed. Wrong—there’s much work left for me to do.

Reframing is a skill of subtleties that takes practice and an acute ear to notice the relationships between three things in a conversation:

  1. Action: the ‘thing’ that took place, words or actions
  2. Effect: the impact of the ‘thing’ on the other party
  3. Intention: the opportunity to better understand the reasons behind the action

Wanting to make sure that all sides are considered moving through action, effect and intention quickly and without formality helps focus all parties on a collaborative solution. Discovering the intention helps identify what the interest is. If interests are aligned, solutions can be found.

Marinate in that—I sure have. I promise you, it isn’t easy, but it’s worth the practice.

Shannon Pearson


Shannon Pearson is a champion of culture and engagement at incrementa (un)consulting. She helps create high performance teams by connecting people to the organization’s DNA: it’s core values and purpose. Leveraging proven methodologies, she increases engagement and connection while reducing conflict.

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