'We've got some important things we need to talk about in regards to your performance...'

'Don't take this the wrong way, but...'

'We need to talk!'

How you set up a conversation can change what direction the conversation takes. For example use any of the above statements and see anxiety levels, and defensiveness, in the other person sky-rocket. You can inadvertently skew the perception of the other person, and their perception is reality. 

One of the most important communication skills that you can develop is learning how to frame your message in a way that makes a difference to how it is received by others. 

But what does ‘framing’ mean? 

The definition of a frame is: 

‘a mental structure that shapes the way we see the world’.

Think for a second about a picture frame; it’s purpose is to focus attention on the picture it is surrounding. It creates clear boundaries and draws out certain aspects of the image. Different picture frames bring out different aspects of a painting or photograph; e.g. a gold frame will highlight any gold in the image, a silver frame will highlight the more silver tints. 

The same thing happens in a communication setting, different frames focus on different aspects. Really good frames always take into account the needs of the audience. Deliver the message in the right way. 

DO it the brite way

The way that you invite the other person to the conversation will be how you frame up the conversation. You want them walking into the conversation with a solution-mindset, rather than a defensive approach. Do it by doing it the BRITE way: 

5 Step Process - BRITE

Barriers - acknowledge existing fears the other person might have, and express empathy about the current situation. 

Rapport - express your humanness in the situation and aim for active participation from both parties. 

Intention - discuss the bigger context and the intent behind the conversation, and contrast with an unhelpful alternative - ensure you use collective language, e.g we, our, us.

Transfer - introduce the process by clarifying what's going to happen next, and anchor to relevance for them. 'What we'll do from here is...'

Exchange - create an agreement between parties.  


The following handout gives you an example of how to do it the BRITE way. 

Download the handout below to map out your BRITE frame. 

So that's the end of DIRECTION, and hopefully if you've sequenced your way through COMPASS and ROADMAP you're all set to be positively masterful at nailing the 'before' stage of the tough stuff. Look forward to seeing you in some of the 'during' stages.