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  • Writer's pictureMarc Saris

The Power of Framing and Reframing in Negotiations

Updated: Jan 30

In negotiations, the way information is framed and reframed can have a significant impact on the outcome. Framing refers to presenting information in a specific way in order to shape the other party's perception and understanding, while reframing involves changing the way information is framed to alter its impact. By using these techniques effectively, negotiators can influence the other party and achieve better outcomes in their negotiations.

The Benefits of Framing in Negotiations

In negotiations, framing can be used to present information in a way that is most favorable to one's position. For example, if a negotiator is trying to sell a product for a higher price, they might frame the product as being of exceptional quality and in high demand, rather than focusing on the price. By doing so, they are able to increase the perceived value of the product and make it more appealing to the other party.

A great example of framing were the painkillers from Reckitt Benckiser developed for the Australian market. Reckitt Benckiser entered the market with multiple pain killers: Nurofen Migraine Pain, Nurofen Tension Headache, Nurofen Period Pain and even the Nurofen Back Pain. They positioned these pain killers for specific aches, and as such were able to charge a higher price. In actuality they were all the same medicine with a different branding. A powerful example of how framing is utilized to position a higher price.

Another example would be a yoghurt being sold the following 2 ways: 1. Yoghurt – 30% Fat

OR 2. Yoghurt – 70% less fat

Consciously steering and influencing the other party to look at the same information in a different perspective can greatly help your position.

The Benefits of Reframing in Negotiations

Reframing can also be used in negotiations to overcome objections and make the other party more open to one's position. For example, if the other party raises concerns about the price of a product, a negotiator might reframe the issue by emphasizing the long-term benefits of the product, such as its durability and reliability. By doing so, they are able to change the other party's perception of the product and increase the chances of a sale.

Another example would be someone telling you, your service is too expensive and replying: “Now if you think it’s expensive, just wait for the problem to get worse” or “Interesting that you talk about costs as working with us will make you more money, it is an investment not a cost”.

Framing and reframing are powerful tools for negotiators to influence the other party and achieve better outcomes in negotiations. It does require time and wordsmithing to ensure that the framing & reframing achieves its desired outcome.

Key guidelines:

1. Define your goal: Before developing your framing or reframing message, define your goal. What do you want to achieve? What message do you want to convey? Having a clear goal will help you to focus your message and increase your chances of success.

2. Know your audience: Before framing or reframing information, it is important to understand the audience and their needs, values, and priorities. This will help you to tailor your message in a way they can more easily relate to

3. Choose the right words: Words have power, so choose your words carefully when developing your framing or reframing message. Use positive, powerful language that resonates with your audience and emphasizes the benefits of your message.

4. Use positive language: When reframing information, use positive language and emphasize the benefits of your message. Avoid negative language that could harm the other party or undermine your credibility.

5. Use examples and anecdotes: To make your message more compelling, use examples and anecdotes. This will help to illustrate your message and make it more memorable for the other party.

6. Practice empathy: When reframing information, try to put yourself in the other party's shoes and understand their perspective. This will help you to tailor your message in a way that resonates with them.

7. Be concise: When framing or reframing information, be concise and to-the-point. Avoid long-winded explanations that could confuse or bore the other party.

8. Test internally: When a framing message has been developed test it with an internal colleague that is not directly involved and gather feedback with regards to that message on how it landed, what emotions they felt with it and their general observations.

9. Know your limits: There are limits to how much information can be framed or reframed. Avoid distorting the truth or presenting false information, as this could harm your credibility and damage your relationship with the other party.


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