It sometimes IS "what you say": how changing a word can change a mindset

Why reframing our thinking can yeild positive results was the topic of my ILM webinar on change.


"It's not what you say but how you say it"...I even hear that in my head in a whiney voice!! But the reality is, sometimes, it is EXACTLY what you say that counts, and as a coach one of the most successful practices my clients use is to reframe their language.

I have upgraded to husband 2.0.

Of course the reality is, "I'm divorced", and for a long time I felt a twinge of embarassment talking about having an "ex-husband". I don't regret it, I've learned a lot and I've changed a lot, but it still always gave me a little bit of a feeling of failure - I chose wrong, I was wrong during the marriage...etc etc... Really in my case we weren't suited, we both made mistakes and we moved on. However it was reframing my words that allowed me to really believe in that last sentance! Should he arise in conversation, I refer to him as "My starter husband".

I try and engage in effective or healthy behaviours

If you label things as "right" or "wrong", you might end up trying to avoid the very things that could be useful in a different situation. I'm a little loathe to tell "that little girl" who is "bossy" that they have "leadership skills" - because sometimes they are just being bossy! So after deciding to discuss the behaviour rather than label the child, I would always discuss the success of behaviour based on context. Barking orders at people is very effective in a time of war - or even in a busy kitchen, but explaining directions and instructions carefully may be more approrpriate in a Doctor patient consultation. It doesn't mean that your ability to be calm or your ability to shout are not useful, they simply need to be utilised at the time they will get you the result you seek. Frame behavior as "effective" or "ineffective" and you will also find a bonus because you also need to identify your goal.

I have friendships out of choice rather than obligation

I'm referring here to dealing with those "toxic friends". The ones where you feel drained coming away from rather than energised. Have a good look at those relationships. The second part of "You can't choose your family" is "You can choose your friends". Friendship is two way. You give and you are also allowed to receive. If you find you are doing too much of either, then that relationship may need an overhaul. One of the most common reasons for staying in friendships that have gone past their sell-by date is a sense of obligation. Unless you really do owe something - and if so, pay it back, but then perhaps it's time to say "Goodbye and thank you." Also remember, because friendships are a choice - always give back if you are receiving because you might otherwise be that "obligation" that people no longer feel they need.


Try it this week.

See if reframing your language allows you to move your thinking forward - and let me know in the comments how you got on! Is it possible to see yourself as:

- someone who manages depression rather than "is depressed" or even "has depression"

- someone who is accomplished rather than "all that" (this is for you modest people out there who need to start to blow your own trumpet but fear being seen as arrogant!)

- someone who is a work in progress rather than "imperfect" - besides "perfection" means you'd need to stop - I like to continue to grow!!

- someone who is frugal rather than stingy, or generous rather than a doormat...and try and live up to what those new terms really mean!


Reframing your language can broarden your perspective. It can help you move from passive recipient to pro-active action taker, and might help you break through some unconscious barriers that the wise mind knows could not have been avoided, but the emotional mind is a little embarassed by.


...and see this not as "a task" - but "a liberation"!


Audrey is a Chartered Psychologist (CPsychol), and the author of "The Leader's Guide to Mindfulness" (2018) and "Be A Great Manager - Now" (2016) She is a CPD Accredited speaker, trainer, and qualified FIRO-B and NLP Practitioner. She is the founding Development Coach and Training Consultant with her training consultancy CLICK Training, and the resident psychologist on The Chrissy B Show (Sky191), the UK's only TV programme dedicated to mental health and wellbeing. She consults, coaches and often presents at National and International conferences in the fields of leadership and team cohesion, as well as being part of the Amity University conference panel. She currently lectures in Personal Development and Mindfulness and provides psychological consultancy in these areas to organisations.

Website: www.draudreyt.com

Insta/Twitter: @draudreyt


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