NLP and Frames

Frames are used in NLP to change the way that a person is filtering the information they are processing. It allows a person to perceive their thoughts and feelings through a different lens of understanding, a better lens that makes those thoughts and feelings more useful to that person.

The most common frames used in NLP are:

Outcome Frame

The outcome frame allows us to focus on the ‘outcome’ of a situation. This change in focus drives the brain to find options for achieving that outcome. If we are problem solving, or negotiating, setting the using the outcome frame will set the goal that we are all trying to achieve and then allow us to look back to how we could have possible achieved it. Consider a business / union dispute over pay.

The outcome frame may help you by looking at the purpose of the request. Consider a Worker’s / Management negotiation:

Union say ‘We want more pay’

Management (in outcome frame) say ‘For what purpose?’

Union say ‘To let our families enjoy life more’

Management say ’Then we can give the staff 3 more days off per year’.

This may be a contrived example, but it demonstrates the outcome frame is a way of satisfying an objective in a more balanced way.

Subsets of the Outcome Frame are:

· Agreement frame – the focus of the outcome is agreement

· Evidence Frame – which helps identify the sensory evidence that identifies success

As If Frame

This Frame was adapted from Milton’s Ericson’s work. By allowing the person to see the world ‘As If’ they had a skill, behaviour or resource, that person can act ‘As If’ they are a new person and break through a limiting belief. It is typified by the phrase ‘Fake it until you make it’ and is best demonstrated by the reality TV show ‘Faking it’ and its international equivalents.

Cause and Effect Frame

This frame allows a person to understand the relationship between what they are doing and the result they are getting. If we adopt the mental filter of looking at how something we do causes an effect, we are getting near real time feedback about how we are influencing the world. I use the cause and effect frame during my public speaking to see if the pitch, tempo and material is having the effect I want. If not I change my approach (cause) until I get the results (effect) I want.

Possibility / Necessity Frame

The possibility / necessity frame is a ‘sense making filter’ that looks at each part of a problem and see if it is something that creates a possibility or if it is a necessity. For example if we take the race to the moon that the US led in the 1960s, there was a possibility of getting a man to the moon much earlier than 1969, but the necessity was the need to return that man to Earth and so extra engineering effort and vehicle contingency was needed that extended the project to the end of that decade.

Ecology Frame

A fundamental precept in NLP is to always leave someone in a better ‘place’ then before you started. It aligns to the medical precept of ‘First do no harm’. The ecology frame gives you the perspective of looking at the wider implications of any change that NLP generates. It makes you answer the questions of:

· Is this change going to improve this person’s life?

· What is the impact on this person’s family and business life?

· What will this new behaviour replace?

· What was being satisfied by the old behaviour and is it still being satisfied?

· Is the new state a well formed outcome for this person?

Use frames as microscopes to look on a situation in a different way and so develop a better and potentially empowering alternative understanding of the situation.

Dare to Aspire


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Filed under Improvement, NLP, Performance

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