Reframing is a way of helping people to hear you, or each other. It takes the ‘sting’ out of a message and allows the content to be heard, including the person making the negative statement themselves.
Reframing also allows people to find common ground.
If person A says, ‘He’s so disrespectful, I don’t know why he has to be so rude, I think it’s deliberate’ and person B says ‘What a gossip – talk about a leaking sieve. She has no idea how to be professional, I really think she needs some training’, reframing allows you to see the common ground.
A useful reframe here might be: ‘So you are both unhappy about how you communicate, directly or indirectly, and feel there’s a lot of room for improvement in how you speak to each other and about each other.’
This will generate agreement from both, in a way that simply summarising won’t. If you simply summarised, (‘So you feel he’s rude to you deliberately, and you feel she gossips unprofessionally about you’) you will find both stay stuck in their positions and negative mind-set.
If you find yourself in the middle of comments like this, reframing is a good way of moving forward.
Summarise their concerns neutrally and in a non-blaming way, identifying the commonalities. This way, both feel they have been heard and their points taken on board. Even better, you are not stuck with the problem, but are already moving towards finding a solution!