How will you word your request this week?

One of my favorite coaches, Marisa Keegan, sent me a video this week that I thought would help explain the importance of framing things in a certain way to your team members or anyone you want to influence.

Marisa is not only a great coach, she is also the mother of twin, 3-year old, boys.  How she frames a request could mean the difference between a leader effectively launching a major change initiative or a toddler obeying her as she’s about to watch him spread a whole box of Captain Crunch all over the kitchen floor.

The personal and professional application of the principle of creating a context and moral framework for requests has a significant importance professionally and personally.  For that reason, I think the 7-minutes you would spend watching this video is well worth it:   Does Santa Make Us Selfish?  By:  The Behavioral Science Guys

A 7-minute video about a topic can seem like eternity to some of us so I’ll summarize it here:

People are motivated when you create a moral frame for your concept or decision that will give context to what you want to convey.  Politicians are great at this.  Conversion examples:  Estate tax to Death tax, MX Missile to Peacekeeping missile.   The company did a small research study with some adorable kids with Santa and an elf.

In the study, a child was paired up with a same age child who was from the research company.  The child in the study was asked by Santa, “What do you want to get the most for Christmas?” All the kids in the study told him their requests, like iPad mini’s and remote control helicopters and the like.   The kids were then led to an elf that had a big chocolate bear and a much smaller one to choose from.  After giving Santa their requests for gifts, the kids, about 70% of the time, chose the bigger bear.

For the next part of the experiment, the researchers had Santa ask, “What kind of gifts do you like to give?“  See, now that part is adorable and if you don’t watch the video you won’t get to see what they say.  After telling Santa what they wanted to give for Christmas 50% more kids chose the smaller chocolate bear over the bigger one.   It would seem that if we carefully choose the way we frame our questions and requests to others, we more frequently might get the outcome we want.

Yep.  How you say something is just as important as what you have to say.  Take a look at an important initiative you have that is not being embraced by your team members and see if there’s a way to change the wording to link a more motivating emotion to what your desired outcome is.

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  1. Thanks Lynda – I really enjoyed your share around one of my favorite topics – how we frame our language (and minds) to achieve our desired outcomes!

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