A Powerful Consideration When Influencing Others.
During my days as a Youth Mentor, there were many young people who needed support in either getting their life back on track or in achieving something they desired.
Some of the youth were very challenging to deal with, let alone provide support to, in a professional capacity. The key was to engage with them using empathy and compassion so that they opened up.
The Youth Mentor’s role was to guide them in taking productive action. There were two types of actions that they would take:
- Retrospective – doing something about what has happened in the past or has been happening until the present moment eg. giving up drugs.
- Prospective – doing something regarding the future eg. enrolling in a new tertiary education course.
Whether the action that they were looking for was retrospective or prospective, I would ask a thought provoking question that would make them think. Here’s that question:
“What’s at stake?”
The goal of that question was to make them realise (in simple words) what they’re messing with, and what/who is affected.
That said, it wasn’t so simple.
The one thing I realised was that every young person had their own frame of focus.
Let me explain….
They all focussed on either of the two:
- External frame of focus – How their actions will affect things/people outside of them eg. “If I give up drugs, I will do my parents proud”.
- Internal frame of focus – How their actions will affect them eg. “I would feel like an achiever when I become a qualified electrician”.
Most of these young people concentrated on only one frame of focus, and some of them on both. However, there was never anyone who concentrated on both frames of focus, equally. Each had a bias toward one.
Even in my Executive/Life Coaching career, I was yet to find a person who concentrated on both frames of focus equally.
Here are two examples of two young people, using a different frame of focus each.
First, there was Emilia – a vibrant and bubbly young lady whose goal was to master the art of speaking before an audience. It was an honour to mentor her in achieving this goal. When questioned about the impetus behind her goal, she said “I want to help the less fortunate, spread awareness about social justice issues, and be the voice for those who cannot speak up for themselves”. Did you notice how all her reasons are pointing toward an external frame of focus?
On a side note, you may not be surprised to learn that today, she is a very high achieving young woman who holds a highly regarded government position in which she is being of stellar service to society!
Then, there was Jeremiah – shy young man who was very quiet at the best of times. His mission was to be more confident in himself. When questioned about the impetus behind his goal, he said “I wish to feel better about myself. I want to know that I can have confidence when I need it. I need to be comfortable in my own skin”. Did you notice how all his reasons are pointing toward an internal frame of focus?
Think about this – when you wish to do something (regardless of whether it is for something retrospective or prospective) which frame of focus do you normally tune in to?
If you are in the profession of helping others, or in management, please pay particular attention to the frame of focus that the people you deal with use more of.
Your role is to provide them with clarity on how they can take action, based on their chosen frame of focus.
Sometimes you could highlight the other frame of focus, and how actions based on that frame of focus will be beneficial. For example, you are in management, and one of your subordinates is uncertain about doing an online course. All his/her colleagues are doing this course in order to enhance their chances of career progression. He/she says “There is not enough time. My project deadlines will not be met if I do this online course. My family will not like this. They know that I am already busy”. Your subordinate has an external frame of focus when it comes to this online course. He/she is looking at things outside of them.
You could support him/her with two separate approaches:
- Stay with the external frame of focus, and point out the positives eg. “Your immediate manager and your HR Manager will be very proud of you for completing this online course” or “If you ever decide to leave this organisation, this course will add more weight to your credentials, and potential employers will love that, won’t they?”
- Provide an internal frame of focus, and see how he/she responds. For example “How would you feel and how would you see yourself when you proudly hold that Certificate Of Completion in your hands?”
My suggestion to you is to play around with this concept, even for yourself. Give yourself both internal and external frames of focus when you are making a decision or looking at completing a task. Then, you will be better positioned to serve yourself and others.
Quote: “Shift your frame of reference. Realise that all you see around you, the reality we perceive, is a small stage upon which you act, and within it is an inner spaciousness that is infinite. Let’s now explore the infinite.” Alex Bennett
I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can productively use internal and external frames of focus to support others and to support yourself.
Influencing you to your excellence,
PS: Here is my Anti-Bullying Charities latest short video (3 Tips For Parents) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbNmLNbcJg4&t=3s