The Power of Framing and/or Reframing


The aesthetic value of a picture is enhanced or diminished by how it is framed. This is why people will often spend more on a frame than they do on a picture or painting. A great picture in a bad frame looks cheap, while an average picture in a great frame looks like it must have some value. One of the most important roles of a leader is framing.

Looking at framing as an act of communication, it refers to how we verbally explain, describe, or promote an issue, policy, situation, etc. Unfortunately, too many leaders are not very good at framing and as a result good ideas are diminished in the minds of the followers. Let me give an example. A church wants to start an early Sunday morning service and eliminate the Sunday evening service. Whatever the motivation, the framing of the proposal for the church will make all the difference on how enthusiastically the new schedule is embraced.

A bad job at framing would be for the pastor so say: “Well our people just aren’t as committed as they once were and they won’t come for the evening service, so we’ll just cancel Sunday evening and try to get them out in the morning.”

A good job at framing would be something like this: “We know that people’s schedules have changed dramatically over the past couple decades, and Sunday evening isn’t an option for many of them. However, we understand that some people could come to an early service and many of our members would prefer to come earlier rather than later. So, we are going to move our Sunday evening service to the early morning and see if we can be more effective and reach more people.”

The same event is framed in two different ways. Which one would have the most appeal? Obviously the second. Every leader should spend a considerable amount of time considering how he or she will frame important decisions, changes, and innovations. Paul said we are to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:14). Love should always frame the topic, even when the truth hurts.