Avoid These Communication TrapsApril 29, 2016
- The Value of Human Potential;
- Construction Explanatory Metaphors; and
- Life Cycle Explanatory Examples.
As Nat Kendall-Taylor, CEO of FrameWorks Institute, demonstrates in his recent APHSA blog post “What’s Wrong with Worthiness? And Other Framing Dilemmas…” there is more to framing than applying the narrative elements to our communications. This issue of the Newsletter briefly identifies additional framing tips and resources that will help the human services sector make the most of the new narrative. We will do a deeper dive on these tips in upcoming newsletters.
Focus on Solutions: While many of our sector’s audiences want us to quickly “define the problem,” inundating communications with challenges and crisis language can leave the audience feeling that a problem is too big to solve.
Make the Story About the Setting, Not the Characters: Framing focuses the public on the big picture by telling what FrameWorks Institute refers to as the “thematic story” – spotlighting systems, institutions, and policies rather than specific individuals.
Avoid Repeating Myths and Correcting Mistakes: The public comes to the table with a number of myths and misconceptions about what human services are and who they serve. Communicators often try to address this challenge by first restating and then dispelling the mistake, but this has the surprising unintended consequence of reinforcing the mistake in the listener’s mind.
Tone is as Important as Substance: Using a reasonable, affirmative tone in communications can help frame the solutions presented as sensible and sound. By contrast, an adversarial tone may turn off people who are not already allies on your issue.
Place Numbers in Context: Data can be an important part of the human services story when used judiciously. Establishing the frame before introducing data into your messages is key.
These Words are Not Our Friends: Vulnerable, Charity, Safety Net. We need to re-think language that feeds the old narrative that human services is only temporary, direct aid to the needy.