Positive Framing

A formula for creating language that gets your mind thinking faster and solving problems quicker.

Diana Lillicrap 6.20.2023

Did you know your brain is programmed to assume statements you hear or read are positive? In fact, it takes you longer to evaluate a negative statement than it does to confirm a positive statement.

Try it for yourself. Read these two sentences and pick out which one makes you pause your thinking process.

Should AI be used to answer customer complaints?

Should we not allow AI to be used to answer customer complaints?

Did you notice it took your brain half a second longer to decipher the negative sentence? That’s because thinking in the positive is faster and more natural for our minds.

How to apply this information

You can use this to your advantage in your next brainstorming session with this simple technique which frames your questions and ideas in a manner to achieve a positive outcome.

Here’s the formula to use

Action + Object + Qualifier = Result

The action is what you want to do.
The object is the thing or person you want to change.
The qualifier is the type of change you want or the proof to support your change.
And the result is what you expect to happen.

A sample formula for a team brainstorming session might look something like this.

In what ways might we market, train, and communicate (action) to our staff and customers (object) that using AI is attractive and effective (qualifier) so people will feel comfortable that we use it for customer service (result)?


In what ways might we convince (action) our staff and customers (object) that AI is an effective and high-quality way (qualifier) to manage customer complaints (result)?

Work to solve the equation

Once you’ve created this language you can break it down to brainstorm around each part of the formula. Think about specific actions you can take. Detail out what your object cares most about. Itemize your qualifier and how it could be better described or proven. And imagine the best result possible. Going through these steps will not only give you clarity on your objective it will generate multiple ideas on how to reach the optimum outcome.

Next time your team is struggling to solve a problem try framing your ideas in this way and work to solve the equations you create. You’ll see that using positive, active language will speed up your thinking and keep you on track to solve your problems and communicate more clearly with each other.

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