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 (https://archive.org/search.php?query=Marshall%20McLuhan; https://monoskop.org/Marshall_McLuhan ) 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 (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228765620_The_Medium_is_the_Message_ ).
One of the global experts on framing/priming is John Bargh, his work speaks volumes for understanding messaging (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWdDRVhhx8A). 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 (https://cllr.com.au/product/semoiotics-and-the-social-psychology-of-risk-unit-3/), Amplification of Risk (https://cllr.com.au/product/social-amplification-risk-unit-8/) and Communicating to the Unconscious (https://cllr.com.au/product/communicating-unconscious-risk-unit-11/).
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?
- How is the language delivered? (by what method?)
Is the language holistic? or,
Is the language focused on outputs, data, performance and measureables?
What values are embedded in the language? Are they openly declared?
What symbols and metaphors are embedded in the language?
Is the language authoritarian, behaviourist, mechanistic or object-centred?
What kind of iconography, models and visuals accompany the communication?
Is worldview openly declared or hidden?
Is the language about systems, or is it more organic in nature?
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 (https://cllr.com.au/product/the-social-politics-of-risk-unit-14/) 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.