Reframing: Try Taking a New Stance

Could the process of changing your thinking about a situation or challenge be all that you really need to do in order to make a significant breakthrough? In this post, we’ll consider how you can do that by changing your stance – the basic paradigm that underpins your approach to some situation or challenge you must face.

When I was teaching management courses full time, I remember thinking to myself that with some of the things we were considering, I really didn’t have all of the answers. Despite this fact, my courses were always successful because, in addition to the input I could provide, I was also able to facilitate the sessions so that those present could benefit from the experience of others who were attending the course.

So, as it turned out, I learned that you didn’t need to be an expert in everything in order to produce a good course; what you needed to be proficient at was the business of getting the best out of the people that were present. I found that just by changing my thinking with regard to my own role I was able to access that ability. Instead of thinking of myself as the provider of the learning, I began to see myself as something of a co-learner in the experience.

What I found was that it actually made a big difference: simply approaching the subject from the perspective of ‘let’s learn this stuff together’ rather than ‘I have some stuff to teach you.’ So if you are presently stuck or facing a challenge in your own work life, I wonder if you might like to think about how a change in, what I would like to call your stance, might make a difference.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is it that I fear in this situation (whatever it is)?
  • What is my current stance in this situation?

When you have answered these questions, you can figure out how you need to change your stance in order to access the resources you need to deal with the situation or challenge. So, as an example, let’s work through the management courses situation I mentioned above.

Q: What is it that I fear in this situation (whatever it is)?
A: Running out of stuff

Q: What is my current stance in this situation?
A: Teaching/Teacher

The reframing of the stance comes about by acknowledging and accepting that you cannot possibly hope to know everything. By switching my stance to that of learner rather than teacher, my concern about running out of stuff was simply no longer relevant. As a leaner, there will always be more stuff to learn and so you will never run out.

It is a subtle shift because, to a large extent, even thinking of yourself as a learner, rather than a teacher, you still have to run the course and you are still doing many of the same things. However, this simple shift of focus may enable you to make better use of the resource present within the room – the experience of the attendees.

Instead of trying to answer questions directly, for example, you can reflect them to other delegates and get their thoughts first. When debriefing, following exercises and assignments, you can get people to teach others about their learning experience. Even when presenting, you can ask your audience which people present have personal experience of the subject and get them to expand on your points.

Now, the above example, from teaching, is just an example. The idea I wanted to present here is how you can sometimes overcome significant challenges that you may face simply by realigning your thinking. In particular in relation to your stance. So I hope you will consider asking yourself what situation or challenge you have to deal with that might benefit from a simple reframing of your own thinking and, in particular, what new stance might benefit you?

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