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How to Tell Anyone Anything by Richard S. Gallagher

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CHAPTER 9

Reframing: Making Difficult Messages Painless

Did you know that soldiers do not actually shoot at anyone? This is because in the military, they often refer to the process of firing at enemy soldiers as “servicing the target.”

What you are seeing here is an example of reframing, where something is worded in ways that are less harsh or emotional. Sometimes it can be very beneficial, such as the case where degrading terms like “mentally retarded” are replaced with more accurate ones such as “learning disabled.” Other times it can be disingenuous, such as calling a tiny cramped apartment “cozy” in an advertisement. Either way, reframing represents the gentle art of using words to make people feel better.

When you are having a difficult ...

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