AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
If the management mantra of the 1990s was "Do more with less," the mantra for the new millennium will be "Do even more with even less." Managers must accept the reality that the competition for external customers will be reflected in increasing competition for internal resources. More and more, managers will feel the antagonistic forces of requests from team members for increased resources and pressure from senior staff to curb those requests and conserve those resources.
The major implication of this scenario is that those managers who thrive will both implicitly understand the importance of negotiation and manifest the skills of effective persuasion. They will view the firm as a "marketplace" where ideas are "bought and sold." Rather than bemoaning their fate, they will learn to sell their proposals and overcome any objections others might raise.
The good news for consultants, in-house trainers, and managers is that the management literature offers an ever-expanding body of theoretical models and practical strategies that provide a solid foundation for designing in-house training programs and crafting personalized coaching tips. However, scanning this work results in a troubling conclusion. Although most of the literature underscores the importance of framing the argument or position one is trying to sell, there is precious little how-to advice.
We are usually instructed to follow two parallel streams of logic. First, we are taught to frame the message based on the other party's needs and the specifics of the situation. Unfortunately, this advice is tantamount to telling an insomniac that the best cure for his problem is a good night's sleep. Exactly, but how does he get it? Yes, a frame should be based on needs and the situation; but how does one construct it?
Second, we are told to construct the message so that the listener/reader perceives it with an overarching theme, either evaluative or descriptive. Depending on the specific proposal, we might want the party to interpret the message through a filter of "good-bad," "profit-loss," or "cost-benefit." Unfortunately, this advice still is not specific enough for the manager looking for the words, phrase, or script most likely to elicit the appropriate impression.
We need a new and simple model designed to help managers find those words and write that script. The ability to craft frames may well be the essence of persuasion and negotiation.
THE FRAME: WHAT IT IS AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT
A frame orients a reader or listener to examine a message with a certain disposition or inclination. Just as framing a picture focuses attention on what is enclosed within that frame, framing a message focuses a reader's or listener's attention on data and premises within the frame. The manager selling an idea frames the message to focus attention on what he believes are the most pivotal or salient issues. Frames help decision makers reduce the complexity of issues and make sense of their environments. When they see one problem as more urgent or more costly than another, they necessarily …