I spend a lot of time thinking about reframings. The ability to reframe situations at work -- and life, for that matter -- can make a huge difference in outcomes.
To understand why reframings are so important, consider this: While no take on a challenge is "bad" or "wrong" -- all perceptions are valid by definition -- your mindset influences how you think about a problem, and how you think about a problem influences your course of action. And some actions are more effective than others.
Results aside, reframings can also be critical to how someone feels at and about their work. Don't we all want to feel fulfilled, or have more fulfilled employees?
These are just a handful of reframings that I've found to be most helpful in a variety of situations -- both for myself and others.
1. "I'm bad at this" versus "I haven't mastered this yet."
Especially for those with perfectionistic tendencies, it can be hard to avoid beating yourself up when your work or skills aren't up to par. However, despairing about where you're not measuring up isn't productive. Instead, by focusing on the word "yet," you adopt a growth mindset that reframes failure as a learning opportunity -- and encourages you to keep working at it.
2. "I have to" versus "I get to."
When you "have" to do things, it's no surprise when they feel like a slog -- and your results will suffer for it. Instead, try to view challenges through a lens of gratitude with the reframing "I get to do X." Problems aren't fun to work through in the moment, but challenges help us grow, and viewing them accordingly can make them easier to deal with.
3. "Negative feedback" versus "constructive feedback."
Creating a culture of feedback is difficult no matter what, but it gets even harder when people view constructive criticism as "negative." It's no wonder that negative feedback can be nerve-wracking to give and even harder to receive -- after all, our brains are programmed to regard negative information as a threat. On the other hand, the word "constructive" redirects the focus to growth -- and the feedback becomes a sign of caring.
4. "I have to fix my weaknesses" versus "I have to learn when my strengths are effective or ineffective."
The labels "strengths" and "weaknesses" are outdated in the knowledge economy, where context is everything. Consider that the exact same behavior can be effective in one situation -- and disastrous in another.
Rather than fixating on "strengths" and "weaknesses" as if they're immutable characteristics, learn to recognize in which situations your most natural behaviors depending are a boon, and when they're a liability. This removes the value judgment -- instead of having to "fix" anything about yourself, you can concentrate on becoming the best version of your authentic self.
5. "Delegation is shirking work" versus "Delegation helps others grow."
New managers in particular struggle with delegation for a variety of reasons, one of which is the worry that shuffling off work to others looks like they're shirking responsibility, or turning their nose up at unglamorous tasks. But this neglects to take into consideration that clinging onto work actually prevents other people from taking on new challenges and growing. Reframing this attitude doesn't just relieve stress on the manager -- it also benefits the team.
6. "I failed" versus "It wasn't right for me."
There are no good or bad people or good or bad jobs -- only right or wrong fits for any individual. Just because someone didn't perform well in one role or one company doesn't mean they're universally "bad."
Personally, I've interviewed for several jobs where I didn't receive an offer, and I struggled with the news that the hiring team went with another candidate. But with some distance, I realized that these roles really wouldn't have been good fits for me -- and getting passed over meant I could not only save myself the time and frustration of a bad fit, but be ready when the right opportunity came along.
This might be the hardest reframing of all, but maybe the most valuable -- not just for individuals, but also for managers faced with letting an employee go.