Frame Control Techniques (Part II)
Continuing from Part I.
- 10. Rule Rewriting (Ie.: Change the Rules of Engagement)
- 11. Philosopher’s Frame (Ie.: Go High, Too High to Be Touched)
- 12. Frame Shaming (Ie.: “Go Higher & Shame By Comparison”)
- 13. Frame Imposing (Ie.: Insist & Don’t Give An Inch)
- 14. Frame Shocking (Ie.: Shock & Awe to Break Their Frame)
- 15. Frame Blocking
- 16. Meta-Framing
10. Rule Rewriting (Ie.: Change the Rules of Engagement)
Rule transformation accepts the general frames, but changes (some of the) rules within the frame
Frames are powerful because they come with unwritten rules attached to them.
Knowing that can give you a lot of social power.
It’s all too common to enter into lose-lose frame battles because one fails to see the commonalities, while focusing on what’s different and fighting whole frames, instead of single points.
Instead, sometimes you might even accept someone’s frame, but control it or negotiate it simply by changing certain rules or points of views.
There are many applications of rule transformation, including of course in more combative situations.
Let’s see one example:
10.2. Sidestep & Charge Back (Ie.: Transform the Rules of Escalation)
My martial arts instructor used to say:
If you’re doing force against force, you’re doing it wrong.
And often, this is the equivalent in frame control terms: you don’t want to engage force against force.
Or at least, not the type of force they’ve chosen.
In general terms, the technique works like this:
1. You accept the confrontational frame, BUT
2. You reject their rules of the confrontation
3. You re-engage with your own rules
Instead of fighting blow by blow within their frame, you completely change the rules of the game to something that suits you better.
If they chose a knife and you can’t use one, then you decide to bring a gun to the knife fight.
Simply changing the rules will often result in mild shock from the attacker, which means you seized the day and are marching towards victory.
Let’s see an example:
Challenger: I know Taekwondo
Samantha: I know the manager
Simple, yet genius.
The challenger’s frame was “confrontation through physical power (where I am stronger)”.
Samantha accepts the confrontation, but changes the rules of engagement to “confrontation through status and connection (where I am stronger).
Imagine if she had replied “I know karate” instead.
That wasn’t very helpful because she would have accepted her frame and escalated it towards confrontation.
Instead, Samantha reframes the rules of the contest and, without backing down, takes the high road.
The effect is to slightly shame the challenger for going down the violent road. But at the same time, Samantha does not give up the fight. It simply changes the terms of the fight.
And since our society reveres “civil” ways of winning arguments, Samantha trounces her tough challenger (and gains her respect).
10.3. Rewrite the Rules With Exception-Seeking
You can use the sidestep technique to save people’s face.
Saving people safe is a technique of “power protecting”, that helps you maintain rapport, social capital, and generally good and collaborative relationships.
How does it work?
Imagine this situation: you are going to a condo gym where they have a “shoes only” rule to use the gym.
You know the employee at the check-in doesn’t really care, but if you make it a battle of wills, you will force him to enforce the rule.
As the guest, you are more powerful in general, but in this case, he has domain authority and ultimate power over this environment. So it’s best not to escalate it.
Here is a good way to sidestep the confrontation:
Him: Sir, the rule is shoes only in the gym, you can’t use flip flops
You: Oh, I see, I understand. OK, I will take the shoes with me then. May I just go in for some stretching just for now?
In this case, you accept their initial frame, which respects their authority.
What you do sidestep though the implied binary frame of “gym use with shoes only / gym use not possible without shoes”.
And create a new category, a category for “no gym, but just light stretching”, for which there are still no rules applying.
Between us, once inside the gym, nobody will likely come and control you.
But if you want to cover all your bases, you can also just say: “may I just go in for this one time because I didn’t know the rule”?
Chances are still high that you will be able to get in.
10.4. Pre-Frame Resetting (Ie.: Ignore the Premise and Set Your Own)
The person who makes the first move usually an advantage in setting the frame.
And the stronger their frame is, the more difficult it is to reframe it.
Imagine for example someone walks to you and says: “you’re an asshole”. He set a frame of aggression and accusation, and it’s challenging to change it to a cooperative frame (or to one where you are the aggressor).
Most people just go along with that frame and defend.
But with a mix of frame ignoring and frame dominance, and sometimes even humor, you can ignore their first move, pretend it never happened, and re-frame the interaction as you wish.
The name “pre-framing time warp” seeks to capture the essence of “going back in time” and pre-frame the interaction to gain the first-mover advantage, even when you didn’t make the first move.
It works like this:
1. Someone sets a frame you don’t like
2. You ignore his frame
3. You re-set your own frame
4. You insist and act according to your frame
Pre-framing can also be used to dispatch -or politely handle – someone who’s bothering you.
Him: Brother, it’s so great to meet you, I got so many things to tell you (his frame is that you are very close and will be talking for a long time)
You: Hey man, good to see you, yeah, I also came here to meet all these interesting people. There are so many of them!
Your reply reframes the interaction from a very close to a friendly one.
And it reframes it as “one of many” interactions that you both will be having. In a polite way, it pre-frames your interaction as a briefer one, because you both -or at least you- are there to network and make first contacts, not to keep engaging with the same person for hours on.
I use this pre-frame relatively often.
And later we will see one video example as well.
11. Philosopher’s Frame (Ie.: Go High, Too High to Be Touched)
… One of my absolute favorite frame control techniques.
If you do this well, you (almost) can’t lose.
In its simplest form, the traits of a philosopher’s frame include:
– a wider angle on life and/or events
– a noncommittal attitude, or only a slight preference
– relativization of things (“depends”)
– shades of grey, rather than black and white
– talking about general principles, rather than specific events
The philosopher’s frame is unassailable because it stays away from strong commitments and refuses to give away a definite response.
Similarly to as you can’t shoot and destroy water, you can’t shoot down a philosopher’s frame, because it’s formless.
Attention: it doesn’t mean you never take any position.
That would mean you talk hot air and never say anything concrete.
But it means that when you do take a position, you do it at a higher level of abstraction.
How does it look like?
Here are some examples:
Him: These damn foreigners, coming to our country and stealing our jobs
You: Our country, my country… What’s a country: an imaginary line that shifts around time. People have been moving around the world, countryless, for millions of years. It’s hard to say who truly belongs anywhere if go back long enough
You refuse his frame, and you kinda embrace freedom of movement.
But you avoid strong commitments and you share general truths that make your frame hard to attack.
If he wanted to continue debating you, it’s up to him to define “belonging”, which is challenging, or to deny that people have been moving around for millions of years, which can’t be denied.
Or on the opposite side of the political spectrum:
Him: If people complain that immigrants are stealing their jobs it means they’re really shit at their jobs
You: Well, depends who we’re talking about. Highly skilled workers are far safer. But it’s usually the people lower in socio-economic status who suffer the most from labor competition. When lots of people chase the same jobs, that puts downward pressure on salaries and weakens the laborers’ negotiation power
Again, you’re not saying you’re against immigration.
And you’re not directly saying that he’s a limousine liberal and it’s easy for him to say that as an executive.
You make it about the general concept of supply and demand which, again, is very hard to refute.
He can’t go anywhere from there.
Use This Technique to Speak With More Authority
I can also highly recommend this technique when you’re answering questions.
It gives far more power and weight to whatever you say.
Let’s use as an example a politically thorny subject, and look at the difference:
Questioner: What do you think of open border immigration policies?
You: They’re nonsense. I’m against it.
Like that, you immediately get branded as a potential extremist, insensitive individual, or “redneck”.
Questioner: What do you think of immigration policies?
You: Well, it’s a complex topic. And as for any complex topic, both sides can make very solid arguments, and both can reference pros and cons.
Unluckily people discuss this issue based on political orientation instead than on data and real risks and benefits…
Now you can either go on, or you can stop and let the questioner ask, which makes your opinion seem very sought after.
Whichever option you embrace, open borders or closed borders, you can now make your point from a position of strength.
Your intro framed you as supra-partes and neutral. And you frame your position as based on evidence and critical thinking. In one word -“enlightened”-.
That’s the power of the “philosopher frame”.
People might attack your argument of course. But it’s hard for them to frame you as biased. If they do, they will look biased and combative.
12. Frame Shaming (Ie.: “Go Higher & Shame By Comparison”)
Another favorite of mine.
Frame shaming leverages the judge role and, when successful, will make you the most powerful and intellectually dominant party in the relationship.
It works like this:
1. Refuse their frame
2. shame them, either by:
2 a. parading a higher alternative you embrace
2 b. showing slight contempt for their low-quality choice-
3. cementing the frame
See here one example:
Her: You know, they have sex and after they feel nothing
Him: (corrugates his eyebrow, the shaming has already started) But you’re not like that (slight shaming, “like that” implies “like that trash”)
Her: Aren’t you? (doesn’t have the courage to stick to her initial frame, throws it back at him)
Him: Not a drop (holds to his frame with full conviction). Not even half a drop (takes the higher road, shames her)
Her: Wow. (she’s impressed, and start being shamed, but not yet ready to give in) What’s wrong with you (tries to shame him back, frame battle going on here)
Him: I get it… You’ve never been in love (not afraid of holding his frame)
In this example, he ends up shaming her for having sex without feelings, for never having been in love.
And he paints himself as morally superior, but also enjoying life at a deeper level.
She ended lower down, and his value increased ten-fold.
This is powerful stuff.
This is another good example, from the same series.
He shames her curiosity by making nothing of his past at Studio 54. That way, he looks worldly and “intellectually superior”.
Men Can Use It For Dating
In dating and seduction, when a girl tells you that “you only want sex”, you could go bold and say “yes”.
And you’d lose her 90% of the time.
Instead, you want to use a similar technique.
Something like this:
Her: I don’t want to go to your place. You will only want to have sex
You: I might want, yes. But I disagree with the “sex only”. The only reason why I might want that is because I like you (reframes “only sex” to “I like you”)
Sex is one of the pleasures of life, especially when two people like each other (reframes sex as normal). It’s one of the defining traits of romance, and romance is a beautiful thing. I value love and romance (reframes the whole interaction to romance).
Don’t you also like love and romance? (asks her to contribute, seeking a collaborative frame)
That’s how you change the frame to go higher and deeper at the same time. In this case, you “win” the frame with a collaborative approach, and winning the frame with a collaborative approach is the best you can achieve.
You win, but nobody loses. You score a win not for yourself, but for both. And you included her in the frame, which makes it far more likely she will follow you.
12.2. Shame With Vulnerability
Later on, we’ll have a lesson on vulnerability.
We will learn that vulnerability is not always powerful.
But it can be.
One way to leverage vulnerability is when someone has done anything that can be judged harshly by some standards.
Yes, it’s a vague definition, and purposefully so: because you can use this technique more times than you think.
In those cases, rather than escalating or fighting full force back, you can honestly -and very vulnerably- admit that you’re shocked and incredulous by their behavior.
Here is an example for clarity:
Doctor A: Are you scratching your balls? (aggressive power move: if you don’t like her tone and do nothing, you lose power)
John: (dumbfounded) I’m shocked
Doctor A: Oh this new generation (tries to hold onto the frame that she’s tough, and has done nothing wrong, and that John is some kind of a wimp because he doesn’t accept that language)
John: I’m shocked
Doctor A: (red as a beetroot) I’m sorry
This is very similar to an exchange that John has shared in the forum (so credit and thanks to John for this technique).
He masterfully leveraged the power of vulnerability to shame a doctor colleague who was trying to play a dominant power move -and instead ended up with the tail between her leg-.
This is especially good in an environment where a certain “political correctness” is expected, for example at work.
But don’t be shy and give it a spin also with your friends.
We live in a world where everyone tries to be tougher and stronger, and hide their true feelings.
But when that bravely vulnerable guy comes along, and he can be shockingly vulnerable… People admire that.
So don’t always think about “how can I hit back harder”.
Sometimes, just be honest and say:
– How disappointed you are
– How saddened you are about someone’s behavior
– How painful it is to hear a criticism that sounds just too harsh
– How shocked you are by someone’s rudeness
And you’ll be surprised how many times people will turn around and apologize -and how much power and respect you’ll gain in the process-.
And if you noticed the embedded “judge role” in the above sentences, congratulations!
A well-executed vulnerability power move has a strong judge undertone to it.
13. Frame Imposing (Ie.: Insist & Don’t Give An Inch)
Frame imposing consists of accepting nothing but one’s own frame as it is, with no interest in negotiating. The frame is backed with much conviction, and pushed it with much willingness to impose it on others
Enter, the bulldozer of frame control.
Frame imposing consists of:
– If you first state the frame, you state it with full conviction and certitude
– If you are answering to someone else’s frame, you reject it with conviction
– If you are issuing tasks or orders, you do it with direct language, and the nonverbals say “do it quickly and without arguing”
– If you engage in a battle of frames, you keep denying others’ frames while you seek to impose yours
This frame control technique is the most dominant. And it’s something that Trump does quite often (of course).
See here one example of frame imposing, you might call this the “deny and insist” technique:
Trump: Even though he said “no collusion”
George: He didn’t say there is no collusion
Trump: He said “no collusion”
George: He said he didn’t look…
Trump: (interrupts) George, the report said: “no collusion”
George: Did you read the report? (covert one-upping frame, implying he didn’t read it)
Trump: Yes, and you should read it too (one-upping back, implies he didn’t read it). Come on, let’s go. You should read it too (puts in the last word), George (George follows him)
You might have noticed two things about such a strong frame imposition:
1. It’s not effective in convincing others and getting their buy-in
2. It can be effective in silencing others, as long as…
3. You need to be higher power to steamroll others
Albeit so far I have long spoken about the need of using “as little dominance as possible”, this is actually a good frame-control technique, and I recommend that you learn to use frame-imposing and get comfortable using it.
In some situations, frame-imposing is the best frame control technique to powerfully defend important boundaries (example later).
However, I don’t recommend you make this your go-to frame control technique.
There lots of downsides to overusing it.
1. People will come to see you as a bully
2. Even when you’re right, people will doubt you
3. You lose people’s goodwill: imposing is not what great leaders do
Very few people like being dominated, and especially not those who are also high-quality and high-power. So if you do it too often, people will come to resent you (and that’s possibly the reason why Melania Trump doesn’t want to hold her husband’s hand anymore).
In workplaces: you can use this frame if you’re very high in an organization, if you’re dealing with reports of yours, and if you are 100% sure you are right. And you should use it much less if you’re in a junior position.
Warning: frame imposing will lead to “domination showdown”
So, if you are in the right, get ready and prepared to stay the course.
A good example of this technique is when people are disrespectful, and you frame-dominate to enforce the fair boundaries of human decency.
Colleague: (Yelling on the phone) Not tomorrow, not later, not in 5 minutes, come here right now, you understand me?
You: (In person, after solving the issue) By the way, colleague, I’m not comfortable with your tone on the phone and with you yelling at me
Colleague: What are you talking about, I needed you right away (they’re trying to change the topic: don’t let them)
You: I’m not talking about you needing me, I’m talking about the tone (you always go back to the main issue). I’m not comfortable with you yelling
Then keep on going until you either get an apology, or until when you’ve made your point across very clear (a minority of people might never apologize, but it doesn’t matter: you enforced your boundary anyway).
Imposing, Without Aggression: The Power of Poise
Please note that frame imposing doesn’t necessarily need pure strength or aggression.
Or, at least, not what most people would define as your stereotypical “aggression”, which often includes anger, emotions, and a quicker rate of speech.
I like this example from “The Devil Wears Prada”:
Miranda: And you have no style and sense of fashion (very direct and disempowering frame)
Andrea: Well, I think that depends on what you’re…
Miranda: (calm, quiet, and in control, but still powerful and dominant) Nono, that wasn’t a question (re-imposes her frame)
Andrea: (sarts selling herself. Now as she seeks her approval, she has likely given Miranda also judge powers over her)
13.2. Passionate Dominance (Ie.: Add Passion To The Dominance)
Passionate dominance is high in dominance, and high in emotions
Do you remember the last lesson?
When we said that to avoid the “high emotions” frame control, unless it was also high in dominance?
Well, here we are now.
Dominance can turn people or spectators into enemies.
A good way to neutralize the negative effects of pure dominance, especially if there is an audience, is to mix passion with your dominance.
That way, people think that you’re a bit crazy, but not that you’re a bully.
And many will respect your passion.
This is the recipe that has made Sgarbi, a popular Italian art critic, famous -and relatively powerful, as well-.
Look at an example here (you don’t need to understand the words):
High passion also makes you “different than the norm”, and that allows the passionate man to get away with things that most others aren’t able to get away with -similar dynamics to the “jester”-.
Sgarbi here mocks another MP for being gay, something that would have been unthinkable for anyone else.
And yet, he largely gets away with it.
Notice also the power of passion mixed with dominance to barrel through high levels of antagonism.
When the crowd starts to boo him, most others would remain silent and let the crowd end with their booing.
But allowing booing to go on underlines that you are unpopular. That might sway public opinion, and might frame his message as “a discordant voice against the majority”.
Instead, Sgarbi does what he usually does: he lashes back with full power, seeking to silence the opposition and defending his speaking and imposing his frame by yelling at full power.
That way, Sgarbi is communicating that he is 100% self-confident that his point of view is the only right one. That’s the full conviction of the charismatic man that, often even without the backing of rationality, will make people listen and agree.
Since you mix passion with the aggression, you can get away with yelling and screaming without coming across as too aggressive. And since the passionate dominance style is also entertaining, it will also help your show go viral and stay in people’s minds.
In his own way, at least when dealing with his areas of expertise, I think Sgarbi is a genius, and I actually respect him.
The downside of this technique is that you lose some authority.
Most people with final decision-making authority rarely need to yell and scream because people will listen even when they speak with a whisper.
Not Good For Women
This technique is not good for women, since people would label them as “crazy bitches”. Unfair maybe, but that’s how it is.
13.3. Broken Record Technique (Ie.: Insist Neutrally)
Frame dominance doesn’t have to be aggressive.
It can be neutral, like a proper “broken record” technique is.
The “broken record” consists of repeating the same message over and over, while also avoiding the over-nastiness of more aggressive forms of frame domination.
For example, imagine a manager who wants to change seating position:
SPACE PLANNING: Too late. The plan has already been submitted to office services and they’ll be setting up the phones and computers next week.
You: Sounds like we still might have time then. The phones haven’t been moved yet. I suggest the offices be assigned based on seniority or some other objective factor.
SPACE PLANNING: I’ve already sent all the plans and change requests to office services.
You: It may be inconvenient, but they haven’t taken action yet. I’m sure adjustments could still be made based on a more equitable method of assigning space.
SPACE PLANNING: I really don’t have time to redo the forms.
You: Oh I see, if that it the issue, I am happy to help you
SPACE PLANNING: I don’t have the authority to make the changes.
You: Who does? I will speak with them or we can meet together.
The broken record doesn’t always yield the desired results, but it sure gives you a good shot at it. And especially if you do it without anger or judgment.
13.4. Kind Dominance (Ie.: Insist Kindly)
Kind frame dominance consists of insisting with one’s own frame while also being kind, friendly, and generally respectful of others
This is great for whenever you need to maintain rapport.
Perfect for business settings, international diplomacy, journalists… Or whenever you’re down on power.
It’s also good for a Machiavellian power move. If you insist kindly while your speaking partner still evades -or gets angry-, he cannot blame you for being too pushy because you’re being kind.
In those cases, you effectively frame your make as shifty and crooked while you maintain an aura of super neutrality -and even cooperativeness-.
See a great example here:
Him: I couldn’t hear your question (such a terrible excuse, never do that!!)
Her: Let me repeat the question
Him: No, that’s OK, let’s move to another question
Her: Right… Because I’m actually curious (pretends to agree, and then goes back to her previous question)
Notice that the “right” seems like she is agreeing with him, and respecting his opinion, and that she is going to obey.
But she goes back to the original question, just paraphrased a different way.
This is great because it doesn’t sound like she is imposing, so she doesn’t end up looking like an overpowering dickhead.
She looks kind… Even overly kind maybe. But she still performs the job like the most dogged pitbull would.
She looks kind, he looks shifty. That video has been viewed by millions of people, looking great for her, and terrible for him.
Note: Watch Out for The Dynamics of “Attack/Defense”
When you’re in the dominant frame, a crucial power dynamic is the attack/defend pattern.
As a rule of thumb, you want to avoid being the party who defends.
Some questions, especially when delivered with a dominant or questioning tonality, naturally push you on the defensive.
Him: Do you think we’re some kind of a joke here?
That’s what a former boss of mine asked me the day after I had left at 5:30pm right after he called us for a meeting (I had an urgent appointment).
I wasn’t a real question, but more of a statement designed to make me go on the defensive and justify myself.
If you answer saying “I’m sorry”, “that’s not what I meant”, or even, “not at all, I take this job very seriously”, you’re already in defensive mode.
Here is how I handled it instead:
Me: Chris, I think that this is all a big misunderstanding and I am glad I can clarify it now, because I can see now the issue that it caused
I reframed it from “me having to defend myself and ask for your forgiveness” to “let me clarify this misunderstanding”.
Then I proceeded to explain I had something urgent the day before and that it was stupid of me not to clarify it right away (you do want to take a good part of the blame when your boss is pushing you to do a “mea culpa”)
And then I also added the collaborative piece of how much I cared and enjoyed the job, just to mend things further. But since I reached that point later instead of defending right away, I also preserved my power.
Questions that naturally frame the interaction as a defend/attack can also be simpler, though.
Her: Why did you say/do that?
The questioner takes all the power when he asks you to explain your behavior.
And the moment you do explain or justify your behavior, you are confirming his power over you.
To deal with the attacker/defender frames properly, you ideally:
1. Avoid defending in the first place
2. Remove their authority and right to even ask you for justification (ie.: “who the hell are you to even question my actions and motives”?).
You cannot and should not use that second step with your boss, of course, or with people who have legitimate authority over you. But you definitely want to do it when your partners and friends are pushing you on the defensive.
For more on justifying, see:
14. Frame Shocking (Ie.: Shock & Awe to Break Their Frame)
We’ve already seen “frame shocking” more than once.
It can indeed be a part of different framing techniques.
It can also be considered an offshoot of “sidestepping”. But you sidestep by saying something totally crazy, off-color, or plainly “shocking”.
This example is so good that I never tire watching it.
Take a look:
The problem with her approach is that it frames him as a dumbass.
The guy does just OK when he replies “slim to none”, but she continues with her condescending frame of “you’re a dumbass, let me lecture you”:
Her: Slim to none, you’re right! Lemme tell you, it’s one in 292.000.000, what do you think about that
Him: Tssh, I knew it (his mannerism is good, he’s kinda playing, but he still stays within her frame)
Her: But you numbers are lucky though, am I right? (again, condescending and framing him as a dumbass who believes in luck)
Him: I hope so, I hope so (better than saying “right”, bust still stays within her frame)
What’s good is that his mannerism clearly says “I am not a dumbass”.
Still, it can be improved.
One problem he is facing is that she has all the power: she has the microphone, the camera, the audience, and the confidence that comes from her power position.
And he is there playing and trying to get lucky in life, which is a weak position in that interaction.
But here is how he turns it around:
Her: If you won all the money, what would you do with it
Him: Bunch of hookers and cocaine (delivered seriously, but also leverages humor framing)
His technique works because he breaks pattern, always good, and destroys her frame at a totally different level: the level of “polite conversation”.
He leverages the fact that she has a large audience for which she needs to keep it PC. And he turns it against her. Now the fact that she has an audience to which she is responsible for upheld “proper” conversation makes her scuttle away.
The downside of this technique is that you have to say something shocking, and you might not always be in the position of doing it.
For example, imagine this guy had conservative parents who watch TV, or if he had an office job and he had to take care of his status and image. Then, the “shock and awe” technique can have some major downsides.
That being said, this is still a great technique to keep in mind.
14.2. Frame Shocking & Reframing: Becoming the Leader
Frame shocking is used in NLP to “break pattern”.
Breaking pattern is accomplished by saying something shocking or off-color that puts people out of their initial frame.
And you can then use those moments of confusion to set your own frame, which is hopefully more helpful and value-adding.
See Tony Robbins executing a “frame shock + reframe” here:
These are the steps:
1. Initial frame: “I’m suicidal and hopeless”
2. Frame shocking: your shoes are fucking red
3. “Shocked phase”: now the target is disoriented, the initial frame has been broken and he’s potentially ready to be lead into something different
4. Sets new frame: “you have a lot to give, you will enjoy this life”
Great neat technique that you can use to add value to people’s lives (but please note that letting them wallow in some sadness before you more slowly change frame can be equally as effective, but just less “showy”).
And you can also use frame shocking to grab people’s attention before you say or do something you want people to pay attention.
14.3. Frame Shocking & Inverse Psychology: Persuading Without Persuading
You can use this technique for persuasion as well.
For example, imagine someone is talking and talking and talking and trying to convince you of something, but you’d like them to listen to you for a change.
You can tell them “listen to me”.
But if that hasn’t worked so far, probably it won’t work if you tell simply tell them again.
So instead you purposefully accuse them of only seeing things their way or, if you want to properly shock them, accuse them of being selfish -or bullies-.
Now that you jolted them, you can come down with your tone a bit.
And you might say “alright, then if it’s not true, listen to me”. Or “OK, I might have exaggerated a bit, but try to listen to me for a second now”.
And if they defend, and stick to their guns, and keep insisting. You still broke the momentum of their advance, which is already good.
Avoid this one with more thin-skinned people, people with a bigger ego and people who have more power than you.
They are all likely to escalate instead of being “positively jolted”.
Example: Shock the street donation seekers
Some years ago in my life, I was experimenting with frame shocking.
I used it to get rid of those street volunteers who are bugging people for money (or trying to improve the world with their hard work, depending on how you look at it).
So if they were from WWF I’d say “I hate animals”, if they were from some green NGOs, I’d say “I hate nature” and, the most shocking, if they were from “Save the Children”, I’d tell them “I hate children”.
I had to push myself to say those mean things, but I can tell you this: it was a one-sentence solution. It worked great.
15. Frame Blocking
A very simple frame control technique IF you can see the frame coming.
There are several situations in life when you know what’s coming.
As a matter of fact, the better you get at power dynamics, the more you will be able to see frames coming.
This was the case in the example we saw above with the female correspondent trying to frame the guy as a simpleton for playing.
You could have seen that frame from miles ahead:
The solution I propose above is an example of frame blocking that consists of “stealing her frame” (“frame stealing”):
Her: Can I tell you… Do you know what are your chances of winning?
Him: (pause) You’re not going to tell me the chances of winning are negligible, are you?
That’s exactly what she was going to tell him.
He blocked her frame before she even had the chance of properly setting it, and now she’d have nowhere else to go.
She will probably be dumbfounded for a few seconds, and then you can take control of the interaction, stay on the attack or, better, striking a conciliatory tone:
Him: Ehehe yes, I am aware of that, but tell me, what are the exact chances?
Now he lets her have her piece but while he retains control of the interaction.
He blocked her frame, took control of the interaction, and became the de-facto leader.
Once you see a frame forming, you have several different ways of blocking a frame.
You can for example:
1. Move first to set your own frame (make them react to your frame)
2. Rush to the conclusion of their own frame, so you can own their own frame (example above, rushing to the conclusion of “you’re not gonna tell me that…”)
3. Use their own frame before they even have a chance of talking (“frame stealing” proper, see example below)
15.2. Frame Stealing
Frame stealing is a special kind of frame blocking.
You block their frame by taking their frame.
Imagine this situation:
Salesman: (walking towards you)
You: Hello sir, can I help you?
Most salesman open the conversation by saying “can I help you?”.
Or they seek a frame where they are there to help you decide and find what you’re looking for.
So when you ask them first if you can help them, you effectively steal their frame.
When frame stealing is done well, it blindsides people and leaves them with nowhere else to go, and completely in your control.
Eminem used it in the movie “8 Miles Road“.
He knew what his opponent was going to say, so he said it first. When it was his opponent’s turn to speak, his frame was already blown, and was left with nowhere else to go.
This technique also works with mirroring:
Street Hustler: What are you looking for my friend?
You: Hey man, how you doing, are you looking for something
Going meta means to explain what someone is doing, and why they are doing it and, directly or indirectly, to either shame them for it, or to explain why it’s not working with you.
In simple terms, instead of playing the game, you explain their little power games.
Often, you don’t need to explain why it’s not working with you. simply by explaining their games, you show a very high level of social intelligence.
That alone says:
Don’t play those little games with me, because I know them far better than you do.
It’s the social equivalent of showing a gun to the guy who’s just pulled a knife.
16.2. “Show Me The Hand” Technique
A strategy of frame control to “surface” covert aggression and passive-aggressiveness
If with going meta you explain what they are doing, with the “show me the hand technique” you let people, directly or indirectly, show their own games and intentions more directly and explicitly.
Both “going meta” and “show me the hand” are particularly effective with micro, covert aggression / covert frames, and passive-aggressiveness. So we will review them in the micro-aggression lesson.