Framing Your World

Framing Your World

In some of our education programs we focus on messaging. Messaging is what lies underneath language and what is embedded in discourse. Sometimes the way we ‘frame’ language and ‘prime’ our audience contradicts the very message we want to send. This is often not intentional but is a hidden by-product focusing too much on content and not enough on process. Like saying ‘we care’ with a an object as a symbol. The underlying message is, we will treat you like an object.

Marshall McLuhan’s work is helpful in understanding the psychology of messaging (; ) and, how various media are vehicles for messaging. The place, space, symbols, language, grammar and structure of a message and how it is ‘framed’ is critical in communicating to the collective unconscious. Messaging is about one’s worldview (philosophy) and this is often hidden in the language, model and text of communications ( ).

One of the global experts on framing/priming is John Bargh, his work speaks volumes for understanding messaging ( Assuming that language and discourse are just rational/behavioural texts can be problematic. We need to also understand unconscious messages in communications. This is what we do in our workshops on semiotics (, Amplification of Risk ( and Communicating to the Unconscious (

Many people tend to think that language and grammar are objective and straight forward. If someone says something that is what they mean. Often in politics that is NOT what they mean, this is the effect of ‘spin’ and propaganda. It takes some extra effort to look though the language and communication to ‘discern’ the real message.

So here are a few questions one might like to ask to help discern what is the message behind the language you observe?

  1. How is the language delivered? (by what method?)
  2. Is the language holistic? or,

  3. Is the language focused on outputs, data, performance and measureables?

  4. What values are embedded in the language? Are they openly declared?

  5. What symbols and metaphors are embedded in the language?

  6. Is the language authoritarian, behaviourist, mechanistic or object-centred?

  7. What kind of iconography, models and visuals accompany the communication?

  8. Is worldview openly declared or hidden?

  9. Is the language about systems, or is it more organic in nature?

  10. Are key words present like: helping, humility, learning, social, community, fallibility, presence, humanizing, trust, enquiry, discovery, unconscious?

There are of course other questions that help discern hidden messaging, particularly at a political, ethical and social level. In our social politics workshop ( we discuss these through various tools, one example is below:


The way messages are ‘framed’ of disguises something, maybe not intentionally but if one interrogates the whole message one can discern the fundamental philosophy that shines through. In the long run it is the trajectory of this message that has the most powerful effect. This is how various effects ‘emerge’ in time. Often people start out with the best of intentions and then in time wonder how they ended up in an organization that was brutal to people.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

One Reply to “Framing Your World”

  1. Dear Rob,

    Yet another wonderful article covering the social autism of safety. Topics such as semiotics, semiosis and hermeneutics are alien to the Linked In or Facebook crusaders. Most box head safety malaperts I have had the misfortune of dealing with are flat out counting TRIFRs with a unique ability to slur one syllable words during a formulaic and symbolic ICAM or TapRoot investigation that merely masquerades as an auto da fe.

    It often manifests via grandiose job titles such as Vice President of Safety, which is Orwellian doublespeak for a corporate thug.

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