4.6 Problem Solving with Reframing: Definition & Examples

Jan 12, 2020 | ch3 How Language Impacts the Brain, Cognitive Psychology, Courses

Every day we are faced with problems that we need to solve in our personal and professional lives. This lesson will discuss problem solving using reframing.

Definition of Reframing

Everyone has a different reaction when a problem arises, and everyone has their own style of problem solving when it comes to both personal and professional situations. Reframing is a way to solve problems by looking at the problem with a new outlook or from a different point of view. Reframing is used in businesses to spark innovation and creativity – if you solve every problem the same way, chances are there will be no new ideas or innovation.

John runs a small restaurant, and this week he received peppers instead of cucumbers in his food order. He needed the cucumbers for his special salad, which is a popular dish. John could see this as a problem and choose to remove the salad from the menu until the next shipment comes in, or John could reframe the problem and decide to add the peppers to the salad to give it a new twist. This is an example of how reframing can be used to solve a business problem.

Purpose of Using Reframing

Reframing can open the door to many new opportunities. Every time reframing isn’t used when a problem arises, creativity can be hindered. Using reframing when a problem does come up can help generate new ideas. In the example of John’s restaurant, if he had just simply took the salad off the menu, he would not have had the opportunity to create a new version of the salad, or even a whole new salad altogether. Reframing is the reason for many new inventions. People usually start with a problem, and in the process of trying to find a positive new outlook to fix the problem, a new idea or invention is created.

Problem Solving with Reframing

Reframing should be used in the workplace to help solve problems. Most professionals are faced with many problems every day. If they use reframing, they can unlock many new solutions for their business. For example, Samantha is a manager at a hotel and she has a front desk agent who is struggling to keep up with the demands of the job. The front desk agent has a great attitude and is really trying, but is not able to perform the duties of the position. Typically, in this situation, Samantha would need to discipline the employee. However, she decides to take a step back and look at the situation from a different point of view. Samantha observes that the employee does well taking reservations over the phone, so she decides to move the employee into reservations full time, which is less demanding. This shows that reframing the problem can help unlock new possibilities.

Some Reframing Tips

It can be easy to just keep solving problems in the same way out of habit. Here are some tips for implementing reframing when you are faced with a problem:

  • Take a step back: Sometimes we are too quick to decide on a solution, which is why we do not use reframing. Take a step back before jumping in to solve the problem.
  • Avoid negativity: Do not initially see a problem as a negative. If you start to look at every problem as an opportunity, it will make using reframing easier.
  • Brainstorm: Think of many different solutions to the problem while consciously trying to use reframing. Try looking at the problem from different angles and see what solutions you can come up with.

Lesson Summary

Let’s review what we’ve learned. Reframing is a useful tool in problem solving. Reframing is looking at a problem from a new outlook or viewpoint. Using reframing can present new opportunities and ideas and should be treated as such, and of course, should be used in the workplace. Some tips for using reframing include taking a step back, avoiding negativity, and brainstorming.

4.7 The Brain & Problem Solving: Areas & Process
4.5 Overcoming Functional Fixedness with Creativity