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"Framing, Reframing and Preframing"

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Framing, Reframing and Preframing
Thu, 2 Nov 2000 08:03:21 -0500


Framing, Reframing and Preframing

WARNING. None of this stuff has been field tested. In fact, I would not even
recommend doing so, except for the heck of it. It is only an exercise to
figure out how framing works. I also raise some questions at the end of this

Framing, Reframing and Preframing basically are changing the meaning of an
situation, event or decision and changing the focal point of attention. The
ideas here are based on the site

You can decide whether or not you want to read this post on framing.
Perhaps you want to do it now because you are interested and motivated to
learn this powerful persuasion technique of framing. Then again, if you do
not read it, you might miss tremendous opportunities just because you were
too lazy to read this post.

"Framing a decision in terms of possible loss
should motivate a person more than framing
the same decision in terms of possible gain."

Framing a decision in negative terms makes people willing to take greater
risks compared to framing the same decision in positive terms. Thus, you can
say "it will be nice talking to you again." Or "Wouldn't it be a case of
really bad karma if we never ever get to talk to each other again? So, what
steps can we take to avoid such a dreadful experience and eternal regret?"

QUESTION. Is it useful to use both the negative and the positive frame in
one go? For example, "when we go dancing, it will be a lot of fun. And
besides, if you don't go, you would hit yourself because you have missed
such a wonderful time together. Now, with me, I think that's a pity."

At the influenceatwork site, the author gives a 5 step Frame Defense to get
out of a frame set by another person. Below, I try to Reverse Engineer his
Frame Defense so that you can develop better frames on the spot.


1.A -- Leave out the "vs." or the option of decision.

"Let's go and get a drink." --- no other option.
"Do you want to get a drink?" --- no "vs." and focuses attention (frame)
towards getting a drink
"Let's go for a walk and we'll see where we'll end up." --- Shift
attention to where you are going, not whether you are going

1.B -- Propose two similar options, thus preframing by presupposing.

"Do you want to go to Bar A or Bar B?" --- Presupposing you will have a
drink together.
"Do you want to meet Friday or Saturday?" --- Presupposing you will meet.
"Do you want to go for a walk or would you rather leave and go someplace

Objection "No, I won't give you my number."
Reframe "How about this. I will give you my number and you give me yours,
sounds fair?"

1.C - Suggest two contrasting options, one of which is very appealing and
the other one not at all.

"Would you like to go for a drink and have a nice chat, or would you rather
stay here and read those boring text books?" - whereas the real issue might
be "get drunk" vs. "pass exam".
"Do you want to go dancing, or would you rather stay a wall flower?"
"Do you want to learn to be PUA, or do you prefer going home alone?" -- by
omission. You don't need to be a PUA to *not* go home alone.
"Do you want to take steps to talk to each other again, or would you rather
lose out on the opportunity to have a good time?"

1.D - Shift the issues. Dealing with objections.

Objection. "I don't have the time."
Reframe : "It's not a matter of having time. Time is a strange thing.
Sometimes you are out with friends and time will go by very fast. And
sometimes you are standing in line waiting and time slows down. Time is
basically an illusion. You have the time. Do you have the desire? -- Time
issue turns into desire issue.
Reframe "It's 8.30 am. So now you have the time."
Reframe. "Neither do I. Let us schedule some time in a couple of weeks when
we both have the time."

Objection. "I cannot go out with you because you are shorter than me."
Reframe. "Looking from the moon, all of us are just as small."
Reframe. "That's okay. I cannot go out with you because you are lighter
than me." (ridiculing the frame)
Reframe. "Yes, your friends would kill you for it." (instigating she thinks
so because of her friends.)

Objection "I don't kiss on the first date."

I have created a number of frames to counter this objection.

"Well, today's *date* is the fifteenth of November, so I guess it's your
lucky day."
"Well, it's not our first date. It's our second, because the first date was
when I met you."
"Well, *you* won't be kissing. I will do all the kissing."
"So just don't kiss me. I won't hold back though. But you have to promise me
not to kiss me back because *you* don't kiss on the first date."
"Well, that's okay. We won't be kissing. It's more like biting and licking."
"Well, it's not kissing. We are only touching each other's lips. I mean when
touch my lips with my fingers, are my fingers kissing my mouth? If I touch
your lips with my fingers, am I kissing you? So, when my lips touch your
lips, we aren't actually kissing, we are just touching each other on the
"Well, kissing isn't really an issue, now is it? I mean, what is important
here is that we can freely get to know each other and open up to each other.
And when that happens, kissing is only a natural consequence."
"So, you always kiss on the second date regardless of the connection you
feel with this person? Now, with me, I think that the important reason for
kissing someone is that you really feel close to this person and that you
want to share an intimate moment together. Now with me, when that happens,
it is honestly irrelevant what date it is."
"What if you have a date with your ideal partner who has one belief that if
his date doesn't kiss him on the first date, she is probably not attracted
to him (or a prude) and thus never calls you again. Pretty silly having such
a rule, isn't it?"
"Do you have rules for everything you do and do not do, or do you actually
decide based on the situation?"
"Who taught you that rule? Your mommy when you were fourteen?"
"When did you come up with that rule? When you were thirteen?"


2A -- Make a decision seem like a simple open-and-shut case. Do not offer
alternative frames.

"How often to you meet someone who you can talk to and connect with just
after meeting them. To walk away from such an opportunity would be a shame.
Now, why don't we go skating next Saturday?"

"I am curious whether you have noticed how well we are getting along here?
Now, with me, having a good time with people is one of my favourite things
and it is worth keeping in touch with those who you have a good time with.
Now, what can we do to make sure that we keep in touch?"

2B - Offer so many frames that you seem to have covered all possibilities.

( advises against offering against overloading the customer
with options. Kenrick Cleveland ( however uses
overload to confuse the listener and then to shoot the question that they
will confirm just to get out of the confusion.)

"We could go skating next Friday. Or you come with me to that party on
Saturday. Or we could go to that jazz concert on Sunday. Or we can go to the
beach on Saturday." "Uhm." "Tell you what, let's have a cup of coffee right
down there and we can talk about it."


3A - Do not give the opportunity to stop and think about "What's important
here?"  For example, by using time constraints (you're leaving now), when
you keep on talking after the suggestion or when you immediately change the
topic afterwards.

"We're leaving now. Do you want to come with us now or would you rather stay
alone by yourself and read while we're off having a drink?"
"We're leaving now. Do you want to come now or will you join us later?"
"Hey, you know what? Can you imagine how nice it would be to get together
on Halloween? (that was the frame, now you keep talking) I just love
Halloween. You know, as a kid wearing those costumes and masks, you can feel
so free..."

3B - Stress the importance of your arguments, either verbally or
non-verbally. You can underline the importance of your arguments by
appealing to authority, or any other of Cialdini's principles (authority,
liking, scarcity, consistency / commitment, reciprocity and social proof).

"I think it is important that we get to know each other soon because we will
be working together often."
"Everybody thinks it is a good idea that we all go now."
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so if you miss it together, we
will never be able to get it right."

3C - Add a reason to your argument, it will make it stronger. People are
programmed to react to verbal indicators. "., because." indicates a
justified reason so that people will more likely comply. (See Mindlessness

"Come with us. It will be fun." -- "fun" has little to do with coming with
you: "Come with us, because it will be fun." -- obviously, you completely
ignore what the consequences of coming with you, or not staying, are. Or one
could also consider a third option, i.e. to go and see a film with a friend.
Or to read a book by yourself.
"It will be fun. Come with us."
"It will be fun, so you have to come with us."
"It will be no fun unless you're there."
"It will be even more fun when you are there."

INFORMATION? Why is this particular aspect of the topic being made salient?"
Be suspicious. Attempt to counter with alternate frames.

4A Make it seem as though you have nothing to benefit from her compliance.

"Oh, ahhh. Jane asked if you're going to come to the party too."
"It would be nice for you to come tomorrow so you can get to meet some new
"Everybody will be happy to see you." (social proof and focus away from you)

4B Allow for no time / possibility to think about it. Humour would be good

"We're leaving now. Are you going to come with us and have a good time or
would you rather stay? What? A smart girl like you shouldn't have to think
that long about such a question. Or aren't you (that smart)?"

Alternately "Wow. That's a really difficult question, isn't it? Tell you
what. We'll go to the bar and you can call me in half an hour, okay?"

Notice its wider-than-tall proportion, and the way the TV case surrounds
the picture tube? It's a frame! Anything you see on TV has already been
framed for you. The same goes for the web, radio, newspapers, and
magazines, as well as pictures in museums! A frame isn't necessarily
bad, but keep in mind that it does require you view the situation from a
certain perspective.

I find it difficult to apply step 5 to this situation.

V. A - Pictures of you are framed.
V. B - A mirror is a frame.
V. C - Talk to her through your car window.
V. D - Picture of you in the local newspaper (authority).
V. E -- Email messages and Web pages.

FRAMING BY POSITION - First you propose something outrageous and
then when you propose something less outrageous, it will seem very
ordinary and common. This is the reasoning behind top of the line,
high-priced car models.

"Okay, either we could fly to Paris next weekend, walk around the streets,
together along the canals and through the parks, visit the Louvre and
perhaps the Musee D'Orsay, or we could just go for a cup of coffee
tomorrow afternoon."

"Hey, why don't you come with me as we are going to go rock climbing next
week. Be sure to upgrade your insurance policy, you never know what will
happen. Or we could go for a drink this coming Thursday. What do you think?"


How can you predict what the most effective frame is?

How can you set up a frame so that everything during an encounter will be
interpreted as 'romantic'?

How can you set up a frame so that you will be interpreted as 'the catch'
or 'attractive'?

Where could we use the fact that things framed as a loss are more
persuasive than things framed as a possible gain?


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