Frames and frame control: such an important aspect of socialization, and yet so few books and resources on this topic.
Most of the resources discussing frames are still about seduction and pick-up techniques.
Next comes sales, especially from authors schooled in NLP. And lastly, there are negotiation books, which also often end up discuss frames.
Albeit it’s a popular topic, I haven’t seen any great resource fully dedicated to frames.
But, scattered around, we can find some good stuff.
This list only contains the top-notch information on frames and frames’ control:
Goleman says that when two people with different emotional states meet there is a tug of war at an amygdala level.
And the ones that “sticks to his (emotional) guns”, ends up winning the other individual over to his own emotional state of choice (for example: when an unflappable person meets a confrontational one, the confrontational one will eventually calm down).
Goleman never calls them “frames”, but he is talking about frames.
Another book proving my original point:
Many authors talk about “frames”.
They just rarely call them frames and rarely apply the framing nomenclature.
For example, Deborah Kolb talks about reframing your opponents’ frames, but instead of calling her techniques reframing, she calls them “strategic turns”.
Still, a great book to understand how frames affect negotiations, and how you can use them to your advantage.
And her example of “interrupting the move” (ie.: “breaking the pattern”) was genius.
And talking about “genius” and “negotiations”:
Simply the best book I have read on negotiation.
It’s not laser-focused on frames, but since frames are often about negotiation and negotiation of meaning, then this book will help with both.
When I started reading “Pitch Anything” I was flabbergasted.
“Oh my God”, I thought, “this book is ThePowerMoves applied to negotiation! This guy is the real deal!”
But by the time I had finished, I felt that Oren Klaff remains stuck on one type of frame control only: frame domination.
His techniques zero in on wresting control of the interaction. And that’s all cool and dandy: you need those skills as well.
But frame domination sometimes leads to an escalation of conflicts, and it can ruin relationships.
In life as much as in sales, you also need frame control skills that help you negotiate the frame, or persuading others without making enemies.
That’s why I recommend the reader to get a wider overview of frames, which include collaborative frames and frames negotiations.
Already, the warning being sounded, this is still an awesome read on frames and (frames conflicts).
Pre-suasion is all about “pre-framing”.
And pre-framing is all about influencing people by exposing or manipulating the frame of mind and frame of reference before they are exposed to a certain stimulus.
In psychology, this is called “priming”, and depending on how you “prime” people, you might as well call it “pre-framing”.
Priming as a psychological construct has been under heavy fire during the recent psychological replication crisis, and it’s even been branded as a “pop-psychology myth“.
But, of course, the war against psychology went too far. Priming is real, and so is the effectiveness of pre-framing.
So much genius insight here.
Not just frames, but also power dynamics concerning gender and sexual conflict.
The only con for most people reading is that Deborah Tannen, the author, is a linguist and researcher, so her books can come across as long and tedious to those who are used to a more engaging “Malcolm Gladwell” style of psychology.
“The Secret Handshake” is the perfect example that there is great wisdom on frames around, but it’s very much scattered.
In the specific, Kathleen Kelley Reardon opened my eyes to the best to teach frames, and frame control.
She uses very simple yet effective ways of describing frame power dynamics. She puts an arrow up to “one-up” actions, and arrow down to “one down” and more submissive actions, and “one across” to neutral actions.
You can use “one-up” and “one down” to attack, counter-attack, or defend. And you can use “one across” to buy yourself time.
So simple, yet so effective.
I couldn’t help but use a similar framework for my lesson on frames.
The only book on this list to discuss framing at a political and mass-communication level.
George Lakoff, the author, is obviously a Democrat. But he doesn’t hide it, so it doesn’t bother me one bit.
And what he says simply makes sense, independently of where you stand in the political spectrum.
This whole book is an exercise in frame wars and frame control, applied to politics and public discourse.
Lakoff discusses how the Republicans framed the political debate around key issues such as taxation (tax-relief) and climate (climate change instead of global warming) in a way that benefited them.
By winning the frame war against the unsuspecting Democrats, Republicans convinced millions of people to vote against their own economic interests.
So, in a way, this is also a book on how to use frames to manipulate and persuade people.
You might not agree with it, but his analysis on frames is spot on.
There is a genius insight in “Getting Past No”.
And that insight is that you will gain every time you can turn a competitive frame into a win-win frame.
Says William Ury:
Whenever the other party goes into positional and confrontational bargaining, you must reframe it to a more helpful win-win approach.
That’s become one of the main tenets of ThePowerMoves.com
As a general rule, there is always more power in turning as many relationships into win-win, rather than fighting (frame) wars.
What’s the best book on frame control?
Answer: The best book on frame control it’s actually a course, and it’s the Power University course.
The Power University course doesn’t just describe frames as a book does, but it shows you clear video examples from real life, mock dialogues, and quizzes.
The quizzes test your intuition and help you develop your social radar to “see” frames, and teach you how to influence them.
I started this website, and the course, because there was little available on power dynamics.
And there was nothing much on frames, either, so I put a lot of information on frames, frame control techniques, and how to use frames to increase your personal power and life success.
Frames are discussed more than once across Power University, and there are three dedicated lessons that go more in-depth on frames and frame control
You can get 50% of those lessons’ content in this free article:
So far we discussed mostly social frames.
But frames are also used to control oneself, and one’s mind.
Meditation is the first, most iconic text discussing frames as a way to control oneself and one’s mind.
Says Marcus Aurelius:
Whatever happens in your life, you decide what that means to you and how you feel about.
And that’s the essence of frames applied to any external event, to control one’s own feelings about it.
Aurelius also recommends to only focus on what you can control, and to let everything else drop out of focus.
In a way, that means to embrace a smaller frame towards the world, only looking at a small portion of reality. The only part that matters: what you can control.
Frames for self-help are also popular in the male self-help and pick-up literature.
Frames discussed in pick-up are often framed as “imposing ones frame” or “constructing one’s own reality”. Both can be helpful if one does it strategically. But it can also make people come across as social retards when applied indiscriminately, or as mentally unhealthy when that “reality distortion” goes too far.
For more on self-help relate frames, see:
- Learned Optimism: changing your internal dialogue to be happier and more optimistic, by an actual psychologist researcher
- Personal Power II: Possibly my favorite self-help product. Tony Robbins discusses reframing to change the meaning of what life events mean to you
- Creating Lasting Change: Tony Robbins, again. Schooled in NLP, Robbins goes heavy on frames. He talks a lot about changing people’s frames to influence their moods and behavior