Frame Control – how the art of framing can make your decisions for you

Framing is a key influence skill which you really mustn’t underestimate.

Framing selects a viewpoint and cherry-picks the facts you present in support of that viewpoint. In short, it creates bias using only truth.

How does that work?

Here’s an example of how the art of framing can be used effectively – to make your decisions for you.

Suppose you tell someone that tapwater is basically really dilute bleach. It is actually true, so – after they’ve checked – they’ll probably freak out about it. They may even start an expensive bottled water habit so they can have ‘pure’ drinking water.

However, if you instead told them that their tapwater sits in a pipe for 3-4 days before it actually reaches their home, and no, no-one actually cleans those pipes… they’ll probably demand that you put something in it to stop it going bad. Something like, for example, chlorine.

This is how two groups of people can be looking at the same set of facts and still draw different (and often opposing) conclusions.

Those groups may face each other in the boardroom, a courtroom, or across a political divide.

But framing is at work in less obvious places too, in your daily life, mainly because framing works like a type of post-hypnotic suggestion.

Framing is everywhere, because we all tend to frame information according to our own viewpoints.

Be more aware of your frames and you’ll understand better how you’re being influenced – and how you’re unknowingly influencing others. That way everyone gets access to a better set of choices.

Agree, disagree? Join the discussion in the comments below.

Getting Ahead in Business – Avoid This Mistake and Gather Influence

[how can I help?] [It's always 'Me, Me, Me' with you, isn't it?]

When thinking about influencing others in the workplace, most people start off by making the same cardinal error. Avoid making this mistake and you can begin to impress decision makers at work and take control of your ability to get ahead.

The mistake I’m talking about is thinking about influence from your point of view only. That’s a lot like asking “What’s in it for me?” each time a new task comes up. Now, there’s no need to become a selfless martyring type, but do you want to become known as someone who only acts in their own interests?

Think instead about ways you can anticipate the needs of those around you – and especially those above you in the hierarchy. Again, there’s no need to be a kiss-ass. Don’t ask for ways you can help, because it actually places a burden on others to find you something to do. Instead, do your research so you can anticipate what’s coming up and act accordingly.

If you do this correctly, it will show three things about you:

  1. You know your work
  2. You see the bigger picture of the business you’re in
  3. You’re highly capable and proactive

Additionally, you can quietly impress those around you without having to make a big deal about it.

That’s real, lasting influence.

What Henry Ford Taught Me About Success

Henry Ford famously said that “Getting ready is the secret of success

While some people believe that this quote is about expectation – that is, you should ‘be ready’ for success to happen to you – I think that misses the point.

Ford is really saying that success isn’t due to a single masterful action. You need to pave the way carefully, and only that preparation makes the action decisive.

In short, the focus here is on what happens before the master-stroke.

Every joke has a set-up before the punch-line and every sale frames the deal before the clincher. Ford understood that success is no different.

I also made use of this principle when using NLP to model excellence. In fact, when Bandler and Grinder undertook their first modelling experiments, creating the foundations of NLP, they used this principle too.

They video-taped sessions with Virginia Satir and when they observed a change in a client, they rewound the tape to find out what Virginia had done to pave the way for that change.

I have also found this principle to be useful for Public Speaking though not just by rehearsing. Preparation is a well-understood part of athletic performance; everyone expects that athletes have undergone a rigorous and thorough training program before competing.

Success is no different, yet many still expect it to be a one-shot deal – they try once or twice, fail and then give up. Now imagine a complete novice learning the high-jump. Is it reasonable for them to give up after only a few days of failing to break the world record? That would be foolish.

Getting ready requires preparation, practice and learning. However, it doesn’t need endless repetition.

What series of exercises can you do to prepare yourself for success? To ‘tone your mental muscles’ so to speak?

Take some time to think about that and you may find your own answers. For those who want a short-cut, I’ve created my Mastering Success course and written my Goal Mastery book as a compilation of those methods.

That’s why I think this quote from Henry Ford is so important. It shows a successful man letting you in on his secret. Isn’t it time you got yourself ready too?

NLP Word Power 2 – Words That Lend Influence

Some words can be used to ‘lend’ influence to others. In this pattern, two things become linked in a person’s mind. There are various simple words to do this, words that you use every day.

Linking with a simple conjunction, such as ‘and’, can be very powerful, because we tend to consciously ignore small words.

At this point you might be thinking “seriously – ‘and’ ? That’s it?” Bear with me.

Because we ignore words like ‘and’, we need to sharpen our awareness to notice the effect of this linking.

How it’s misused:

For example, think about the phrase “health and beauty”. We see this fairly often and don’t question it, but do the two necessarily belong together?

Are healthy people necessarily beautiful? Are beautiful people necessarily healthy? I’m sure we can agree that the link between the two is nowhere near as definite as the phrase might imply. How about “health and safety”? Again, the link is tenuous at best. This is true of many statements which are linked with the word ‘and’.

How about an advertising example: Have a coke and a smile

How you can use it powerfully:

On the upside, this language pattern is really easy to use. Just link something together with something else using ‘and’. Here are some examples.

“relax and enjoy yourself”

“have fun and do well in your interview”

“take your time and come up with the right answer”

It’s really simple and you can test it out for yourself.


To add borrowed influence to an idea, use simple linkages like ‘and’.

How to Stop Wasting Your Time With Repetition

Many people seem to misunderstand the purpose of repetition in learning.

They seem to think that repetition is about ‘getting something into your memory’:

  • memorise your study notes in school through endless repetition to ‘learn’ them
  • go through endless repetitions of physical movements to ‘get them into muscle memory’
  • go over scales again and again in music to ‘key them into memory’

The trouble with repetition as a learning device is that it doesn’t actually do anything very fast or very well.

Repetition is really about refinement.

  • learn the physical movement, then run through repetitions (with a high quality reference experience) to refine it.
    This actually makes use of our ‘learning and refinement’ loops
  • learn the musical scales to educate and strengthen the necessary muscles. Repeat until they ‘sound right’. Refinement.

Repetition is learning only if you are refining what you have learned.

To embed learning, it must be memorable in some way. No amount of repetition can substitute for this.

I remember my Chemistry teacher giving us silly songs and rhymes to remember certain scientific principles. There wasn’t much repetition involved at all. At the time we absolutely hated it, but I can still call those principles clearly to mind twenty-five years later. They made the learning memorable.

If learning is fun, exciting, silly, shocking or fascinating, it is more memorable because the most accessible memories tend to be coded emotionally. We also tend to learn more quickly when emotion is present.

Repetition runs our learning through refinement loops until it reaches a stable conformation, where we meet some kind of internal standard (good enough) or match the quality of the reference experience we are trying to emulate.

So repetition without refinement isn’t really learning. It is a misuse of our most valuable resource: time.

To Summarise:

When you learn, get out of the repetition trap by asking yourself what the purpose of the repetition really is. If it’s about ‘getting the information into your mind or body‘ then stop and make the learning memorable. Then only use repetition to refine your experience.

Why Excellence Means Burning Your Bridges

A certain set of skills, techniques and routines raise us from zero to a state of competence.
However, to set a higher standard and further refine those loops doesn’t guarantee further improvement. Far from it.

That is a mind-trap. The thinking goes kind of like this:

“if doing X for one hour per week got me a result, doing two hours of X will get me twice that result.”

There’s a flaw: refinement isn’t infinitely scaleable.

In fact, we begin to move into diminishing returns beyond a certain point. A lot of people will tell you that this is how it has to be. They’ll insist that increasing effort resulting in smaller and smaller gains is how the top people did it. They’ll try to tell you to do it that way, or you “haven’t got what it takes”.

If you buy into that way of thinking, you may reach the point where effort vs reward is no longer worth it – and still be a long way from excellence.

Treading on your dreams

I realise that this might sound like I’m lining your dreams up for a downer ending – and that’s where they’re going if you buy into the ‘wind it tighter’ armchair expert bullshit.

However, there is another, better option when you reach a high state of competence – and it doesn’t involve winding your refinement loops tighter or being more efficient.

It involves something that is initially more difficult, because it involves letting go of the ‘tried-and-tested’ method which got you to a state of high competence.

It involves finding a process that is new to you – one which takes you to excellence by refining your skills in a different way, or refining a completely different characteristic. It involves a shift in perspective and a change in how you think about what you are doing.

Successful people reinvent themselves and they think differently than those who are merely competent.

It’s easy to be mediocre

it’s easy to keep going on the familiar route because it has proven its efficacy this far – and it’s comfortable. That comfort is also a powerful force preventing change. The bite of diminishing returns on your effort is what does the rest of the job. That’s why most people give up before they become truly excellent at something.

Simply, what got you here will not get you there.

Turning the world upside down

Here’s an analogy which might help. Suppose you want to get to Australia. You get in a car and start heading in the direction of Australia. You accelerate and so you make some gains more quickly. There will come a certain point where you reach the coast. Driving faster just will not do the job. You need to do something completely different beyond that point because what got you to the coast will not get you to Australia. It’s obvious a boat or an aeroplane is the next vehicle you need.

What is the next vehicle for you? Knowing when to abandon your current process and start searching for alternatives is a hallmark of success.

It takes daring

That search involves a lot of trial and error – essentially working past a lot of failure. Coping with and learning from failure has to be an integral part of the plan. You must expect repeated failure and use it positively until you find a new successful process.

Did you ever wonder how succcessful people are so good at a number of things? they’ve internalised this type of thinking. Having done it once already, they now know what to expect. They know when and how to switch vehicles. They know that past success can keep you from future improvement if you become addicted to success and tied to how you achieved it.

Time to let go

So think about whether now is the time to let go. Diminishing returns are a good indicator that you need to think differently and change your process.

Where are you now? Aside from your previous process, what do you think will get you from here to excellence?

Let me know in the comments below.

How to Stop a Worry

How do you worry?

No, I’m not asking ‘why’ do you worry. You already know that and insight requires new information.

I’m asking what you do on the inside – in your mind – when you worry, because we each do it differently.

Do you worry in pictures? Imagine movies of things going wrong? Seeing the worst case scenario?

Or do you worry in sounds? Do you tell yourself off, or use a stressed or panicky voice for your internal dialogue? Do you hear the worst things that others might say?

Or is it a physical sensation? Do you get a sinking feeling or a sense of dread?

Do you do a combination of these when you worry?

Here’s how to change that.

  1. Pick a specific thing you worry about
  2. What do you do on the inside when you worry? What is the process? Is it picures, sounds or sensations?
  3. Now change the process:
    • for pictures or movies: pause the action. Turn down the colour and push the image into the distance.
    • for sounds and internal dialogue: turn the volume down, change the voice to a goofy-sounding one and move the sound into the distance.
    • for sensations: if the feeling moves, slow it down. Move it outside your body and turn it upside down.
  4. Take a deep breath and let it out again.
  5. There are things you have enjoyed in the past. Some you have enjoyed a little bit, while others were much more fun. Choose one of these memories and build it up instead:
    • for pictures or movies: Turn up the colour of the pleasant image and pull the image towards you.
    • for sounds and internal dialogue: turn the volume up, change the voice to an even more pleasant-sounding one and move the sound closer.
    • for sensations: if the good feeling moves, let it move faster.

If you understand what you do on the inside when you worry, you can begin to change it.

Note: these are elements of NLP in practice. If you want to know more, have a look at my NLP training courses, or go to to look at my online NLP courses.

Value, self investment and self-development

Value and self-investment is a fascinating topic to study.

Since I sell my own self-development courses, I’m ideally placed to experience how people express the value of their own development. This is especially so

In some cases, I’ve seen faulty thinking, mental evasions and other expressions of inner values in conflict.

Note: I’m not saying that everyone needs, or could benefit from, learning NLP, for example. What I am saying is that some people have a strange mindset when it comes to money and value. (I’ve written about this before here).

For example, one of the most common excuses for putting off learning NLP is that “there just isn’t the money for it“. Those are the facts as they experience them.

What is really going on in their mind is far more interesting:

  • Learning a skill-set, mindset and taking on a powerful new worldview is scary
    For some, it’s stepping into the unknown. “What will it be like? Will it be better or worse than I imagine? Will I be any good at it?” It’s easy to see that none of these questions are answerable at the outset.My advice is this – take a chance. Achieving the best is within your personal control if you’re prepared to take the time and put in the effort. The only way to stop the unknown from being scary is to make it into the known. Take that step. Do that thing you’re afraid to fail at – and you can make sure you succeed.
  • Will I change?
    Some people think that developing themselves means becoming ‘someone else’. They ask the question “If I learn this, will I still be me?”Yes, you’ll still be you. Think about this: were you ‘you’ ten years ago? Are you ‘you’ now? I’m betting that you’ve changed in some ways in the last ten years. Despite that, you have been ‘you’ right the way through, so you can learn and grow as an individual without having to become ‘someone else’.
  • They haven’t ‘joined the dots’ between learning and earning
    When I ask people why they’re interested in self-development, they have lots of answers. When I then ask what they’re going to do with the new knowledge to achieve that, the result is often a confused look.I think that any good investment will pay you back, so I’m basically asking them “how will this investment in yourself pay you back?”If you’re thinking about investing in your own development, you need to ask yourself that question too. And don’t be vague.Ask:

    “How specifically will this investment in myself pay me back?”
    “How else will it pay me back?”
    “what else specifically will it do for me?”
    “How else will I benefit?”

    If you’ve really thought it through and haven’t got good answers to the questions above, then don’t do the course until you do.

    It’s up to you to make those benefits tangible, because only you know your circumstances, your willingness to learn and where you want to apply the insights or use your new abilities. A good trainer will act as a sounding board and help to coach you through the options and possibilities. Only you can predict how exactly you’ll benefit.

  • They think that if they invest in a course, that money is gone forever
    This is the mindset of scarcity. It amounts to thinking that if the money is spent on X, then there will be no money for Y. That if the money is spent on self-development, it can’t be spent on a new TV. So the decision is: self-development vs. a new TV.This is what Economists call ‘fixed pie’ – if you take one piece of the pie, that’s one piece less for everything else. We have a saying that expresses this mindset: “You can’t have your cake and eat it”. If you think like that, of course, you won’t.But self-development is an investment in the future of your self and as I said above, a good investment pays you back, with interest.So the decision is different: what future will I have from self-development vs. what future will I have from getting a new TV?And be honest – if you know it’s not going to improve your future, don’t do it. But if you can see the benefits you will gain, go ahead.

Sometimes it helps to go at the question from a different direction.

Ask: “If you could change or improve one aspect of your life, which one would create the biggest positive difference?

What would it be worth to have that?

If some self-development can help you to achieve that, would you do it?

Take some time to think it through because only you can know the answer.

An alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

The way we greet the New Year has changed.

  • Ancient Babylonians started their new year by repaying outstanding debts and returning items they had borrowed.
  • The ancient Romans ended the year by reviewing the previous one, resolving to achieve more in the year to come and paying homage to Janus, the god of doorways and beginnings (and source of the name January).
  • We currently start each year by resolving to give up a ‘bad’ habit or take up a ‘good’ habit.

So you have a choice about how you can meet 2014 – and you can choose how to spend your time.

What you have no choice about is that over the next 365 days, you will be presented with a host of opportunities and challenges. That is a certainty unless you live in a perfect world.

What you can do is decide whether you will seize those opportunities and choose how to meet life’s challenges.

The best way to seize opportunities is to expect and look for them – otherwise, how will you know they are there?
The best way to meet challenges is to attribute cause carefully:

  • what was your part in that?
  • If you did something different, what difference would it have made?
  • What have you learned that will help you avoid or minimise that in future?

New year’s resolutions are just the start – instead of making the usual effort to stop something ‘bad’ or start something ‘good’, why not choose how you would like to meet the opportunities and challenges over the next 12 months?

It makes more sense and, I think, is a much more productive use of time and resources.

Is it always possible to make a good decision?

There’s a growing interest in how to make ‘good’ decisions.

Think about this – there are some things you make better decisions about than others. Almost no-one has it all. So, what are the areas in which you already make good decisions?

Some of your ‘bad’ decisions will have been made through inexperience. That’s okay. Just make sure you learn positively from these experiences and you will begin to make fewer of these.

Some of your ‘bad’ decisions will have been made through emotional bias. We all have tendencies, idiosyncrasies and ingrained habits. Our thinking processes are no exception to this. Where there is conflict in our choices (e.g. green salad or chocolate cake?) it’s useful to separate which choice will feel better from the choice that will be better overall.

As for the rest, consider that many decisions can only be evaluated in hindsight.

Let’s test that out. Flip a coin and cover it so you don’t know the outcome. Choose: heads or tails? Now, before uncovering the coin, ask yourself: was that a good decision? It’s really hard to know whether it is or not. Now uncover it and see the true outcome.

Actually do the experiment so you can experience the learning with your body and senses.

You might object that the result is random. So attempt to have the coin come up tails then repeat the experiment.

Now for the most important question – has that experience helped you to make a better decision next time you flip the coin? It really hasn’t, has it? A ‘win’ last time may lead you to feel more confident of your decision this time. A ‘lose’ last time may knock your confidence a little the next time around. However, objectively, you’re really no better off. It’s really difficult to be definite about a decision where the outcome is unpredictable, or largely out of your control.

So this type of experience does not refine your decision-making process in any useful way.

You might argue that decisions like this don’t occur in real life. But just think about how many random contributors there are to most outcomes. Sometimes one or more of those random contributions will become significant, like a change in the weather or a crucial person who changes their mind.

These experiences are also being created artificially as part of game dynamics. Imagine this scenario:

While playing a game, suppose you receive a large reward. If you want the reward again, you’re going to try to figure out what you did that resulted in getting the reward. So you will keep playing and try a variety of likely approaches – ones similar to those you were doing before you were rewarded.

But here’s the twist – suppose the reward is actually being given out at random. What happens to the psychology of the player under those circumstances? The player thinks they somehow caused the reward and further experimentation will yield no lasting match between cause and effect. The usual effect is cognitive dissonance – the player becomes confused and highly motivated to find the ‘winning’ pattern. The result is similar to patterns of addiction, especially if the reward is big and occurs early in the process.

These ‘games’ are not always explicit (like tetris or roulette) but are now becoming part of other processes where customer engagement is a key part of the system.

In these ‘unknowable’ cases, it’s more important to make a decision, rather than hesitating too long.

Instead of trying to make a good decision, how about

  • taking calculated risks
  • becoming good at course-correcting

Let me know your opinions on this in the comments below.