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You've Been Framed!

"You put yourself right into the frame. You know your way around inside the game." Moonshots, "Outta Line."

How many frames can you count in the above photo? Depending on your screen size, maybe you see only one; others will see more than 5. That's Brandon Crawford on the right. He's the San Francisco Giants' 13-year veteran shortstop, who was joining the local broadcast of their exhibition game vs. Team USA as they prepare for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

During their conversation, the television screen flashed between scenes like the one above and others showing only Crawford or only the game. The video, like every video nowadays, was constantly changing frames. It's a way of keeping our attention, I suppose. And the video director is guiding our attention. That's what frames do. They guide, or even control, our attention. We can only see what's in the frame.

Last time we discussed how to establish rapport in order to improve negotiations. That beautiful necessity called "common ground." Common ground allows us to connect on different, and often deeper, levels of understanding. When difficult issues arise, we can fall back to or smile at our shared interests, whether it be a funny story or any common experience that keeps the conversation moving toward a positive outcome. The more common ground you establish, the more frames there are for you to focus on. Rapport get things going, framing creates context and increases the perspectives you can take along the way.

Framing is perspective. A frame, usually a square or a rectangle, allows us to enter the picture. As a grocer said to me the other day, "Life is all about angles." When a negotiation breaks down, or reaches an impasse, the great negotiator will say, "Let's take another approach," or "Let's see this from another angle." She or he is aiming to re-frame the issue. Frame or be framed!

Last Tuesday, I asked Carol Temple, the owner/operator of Solana Beach Art and Frame, "What's the most important thing to consider with frames?" Since I was working on this blog, I wanted to gain a professional framer's perspective.

She asked, "For the business of framing or the art of framing?"

"Either or both."

"Well, as for the art of framing, the most important thing about a frame is that you don't see it." Bingo!

When I first asked my collaborator Scott Maltby, "What's the most important consideration for successful negotiations?" the long-time negotiations professor said, "The best negotiations don't seem like negotiations. They're good dialogue." In other words, he was telling me (and anyone else with any level of unease around the topic), "Re-frame your negotiation as a collaborative conversation."

We live in frames, we create frames, we put ourselves and others in frames, all to help us feel more comfortable. No house without a frame! They give us "frames of reference." Frames can provide what we need for good conversations, good negotiations, good outcomes. So as we create rapport, let's also be conscious of the power of frames, and how they enhance the beauty of those picture-perfect moments we're creating.

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