Reframe your thoughts

I was once asked to visualise a pig. Then a snake. Finally, a crab.

Here are the pictures that leapt to my mind.

With the pig, it was slush, dirt, and the feeling of uugghhh.

The word ‘reptile’ came in immediately and I saw the snake slithering away.

As for the crab, its claws filled my mind.

None of the above images were positive nor endearing to the eye.

What if we were to reframe the situation and the vision?

Let us take the pig again.

I noticed how playful the pigs were in the slush. To them, that is their playground and environment. They stay happy irrespective of it being dirty. In short, they make the most of a shitty environment.

The slithering of the snake became a metaphor for finding your way amidst hurdles, rocks, and crevices. Life is a zig zag, nothing is ever straight and we have to find our path.

The claws of the crab became a shield of protection from both, physical as well as emotional harm.

Voila! The animals did not change. What changed was how I visualised them, their environment, and what they stood for. The negative connotations associated with them were replaced with positive benefits.

Workplace situations for reframing

In our workplace, we are often besieged with stressful situations. These can lead to anxiety and fearing the worst possible outcomes. Usage of the reframing technique can help you to not only see the situation through a positive lens but can also lead to success and growth.

Let us look at some common workplace scenarios wherein reframing of thoughts can change the outcome in a positive manner.

Scenario #1 Tight deadlines

Not uncommon for communications professionals! You have yet to complete a task when suddenly there comes another work that needs to be closed ASAP. Frustration and anger would most likely be your first reaction.

What if instead of being overwhelmed, you were to take a deep breath and center your attention to the task at hand. You may perhaps see an opportunity to showcase your efficiency and time management skills!

Scenario #2 Team dynamics

The ability to work in a cross functional team is crucial for communicators. However, not all cross functional teams have healthy dynamics. Misunderstanding and non-alignment of communicators with business owners is not unheard of.

Rather than viewing each statement made by others as an attack, learn to look at conflict with kindness to yourself and empathy towards others. Try finding a common ground to arrive at a win-win solution.

Scenario #3 The feedback session

This one is tough. Handling feedback constructively is not everyone’s cup of tea. When viewed personally, feedback can have a very debilitating impact on your performance and morale.

However, when viewed from a professional lens and if you learn to detach your emotions, you can embrace a growth mindset and actually seek out constructive criticism.

Scenario #4 Managing uncertainty

In today’s BANI world, uncertainty rules. Job security is passé. Mergers and acquisitions coupled with organisational restructuring has led to many professionals lose their jobs. Every organisation goes through change and that is a constant you have to deal with.

Instead of fearing change and making yourself miserable over it, try using the time frame to pick up new skills and explore different approaches.

Scenario #5 No recognition

You have excelled. You have completed a task before the scheduled time. You have averted a crisis. Yet, there is no reward nor is there any appreciation for what you bring to the table. At such moments, it is easy to let your frustration overtake you and drag yourself down the demotivation lane.

As an alternative, focus on your own rewards that you got when completing the work. Be proud of your competencies and keep learning from every accomplishment.

Reframing of situations can help you grow professionally. Try it today!


The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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