When a person is upset about an unpleasant experience, the feeling may not be based on what is happening externally but on the meaning attached to it internally.  So, we want to encourage clients to change the meaning of an experience in a way that allows them to rethink their initial response to it.

Reframing is based on that premise. To reframe something is to change its meaning by putting it in a different setting, context, or frame. Just as we can change our response to a piece of art by placing it in a different frame, we can change our response to an experience by looking at it from a different perspective – effectively reframing the experience.

A perfect example occurred recently. The online class I was assigned to teach was canceled. My first response was disappointment. My reframe was “I am disappointed about not teaching the class, but I now have more time to write articles and develop my website.”

Maria makes an appointment with an NLP practitioner because she is not able to control her drinking as much as she would like. She is a real estate agent and likes to meet with clients over a glass of wine after showing them a house. Her plan is to answer questions about the property for an hour and then leave.

Invariably, though, she orders more drinks and spends the evening chatting with them. Maria is embarrassed about the excessive drinking and furious with herself for “wasting” time.

When asked what else her behavior could mean, she replied the chatting is an attempt to build a relationship with the client and improve her chances of making the sale. Once she understood the positive intent of the drinking, we were able to discuss other more acceptable options. One strategy that may be effective is to the Six- Step reframe.

Identify the problem behavior.
MARIA:  The problem behavior is drinking too much when meeting with clients.

Identify the positive intention behind the behavior.
MARIA:  The positive intent of the behavior is to further build rapport with the client and ultimately to sell the house.

Ask “if there were other ways of accomplishing this positive intention, would you be interested in discovering them?”
MARIA:  Yes!

Brainstorm other ways of building rapport with a client and making a sale without drinking too much. 
MARIA: I could meet clients at a place where alcohol is not served, such as Starbucks.
We could stay at the house a little longer and go nowhere.
I could establish boundaries with the bartender ahead of time. For example, my instructions might be to serve only one glass of wine per adult when I come in with clients.
I could develop a checklist. Completion of all items on the list would be a signal to end the meeting.
I could schedule a hypothetical appointment directly afterward, which would be an excuse to leave.
I could hire a coach. A coach would teach me better management skills and ways to explore additional options.

Identify at least three new choices from the list.
MARIA: I like the idea of working with a coach. I can set a limit with the bartender ahead of time and I can schedule another appointment, even if it is with my cat.

Conduct an Ecology Check or in other words, examine objections and assess for commitment.
MARIA:  There are no objections. I can still meet with the client over a glass of wine after showing them a house and learn to manage myself better.  This feels like a win-win.

This is one way to use the strategies of reframing, positive intention, and the six-step reframe.