Social Dynamics

24 Practical Examples of Frame Control

By Jonathan Roseland  Connect    

Frame Control750

In every social interaction one person is more reactive than the other to the words and actions of the person they are communicating with.

Frame control is a topic that gets discussed Ad nauseam in hypothetical terms, in this article I'll break out of that by providing a mix of examples in pop culture, movies and television along with personal anecdotes. Frame control really is relevant to every human interaction but the most colorful examples of it come from the domains of business and seduction, I could deconstruct boundless case studies of it that are whole lot more PG rated, I've chosen examples that are a bit more edgy so that you actually remember and can apply them.

As you will see their is quiet a spectrum of Frame Control, and certain frame control methods should not be used in certain situations. This is not quiet an area where you should just go with what feels natural. In fact there are very few Frame Control naturals. You can find a ton of articles and books that discuss it theoretically in depth. However, if you'd like to see an infographic designed that breaks the topic down visually, let me know in the comments at the bottom. Although, honestly you may just find these examples more useful.

Ignoring Intentionallyignoring

A lot of times the best way to control the frame is just to ignore the what the other party says and continue the interaction with high energy. Example: I walked into a party and saw my ex-girlfriend and her best friend sitting with a group. I could just ignore them, but that's not my style. We had a lot of overlap in our respective social circles, avoiding her would actually be a lot of work. I approach the group and sit down. I say hello to my ex and her friend then continue a conversation with someone else in the group. My ex's friend starts criticizing the ostentatious style of my shoes in a caustic way. I look her in the eyes but don't respond to her comment.
I then engaged the rest of the group and started making jokes that everyone laughed at for the next few minutes.

Two children and a ball

frame control

Here's a simple example: a little boy and little girl are playing with a ball. The girl takes the ball from the boy and starts throwing it against the wall, having fun. The boy gets mad and wants the ball. The girl has the frame. Then the little boy takes the ball and starts bouncing it, the little girl starts crying. Now the boy has the frame.

The Trial of Hank Rearden

Checkout this very clip from the very mediocre movie adaptation of Atlas Shrugged. In this clip Hank refuses to get drawn into a legal debate of his actions, he instead reframes it as morality debate. If they want him to comply, they will have to make a clearly immoral display of force. To paraphrase:
If you believe you have a right to my property. Then you better bring guns.

Own the Fun Frame with silly dancing

As you can see in the video above I bring the fun frame by teaching a cute Colombian girl a few very simple silly dance moves. Owning the fun frame can be a real challenge, especially if you don't really like drinking alcohol, are trying to ingratiate yourself with an existing social circle or are a foreigner in a foreign land (all three apply to me frequently). To own the fun frame, to bring the party, you really need to up the energy level and playfulness of everyone else. Sometimes I do this with silly dancing. Further on I'll explain how I actually approach and initiate the silly dancing while maintaining frame control.

A man hits on a provocatively dressed woman in the street

The woman exclaims 'You are the third guy to hit on me today!' the man apologizes. The woman has the frame. Instead of apologizing the man smiles slightly and proceeds: What I noticed about you is that you have very high heels. This makes me think you are a stripper or a high heel shoe tester? Which is it?
The woman breaks out in laughter and attempts to convince the man she is a shoe tester. The man has the frame.

Hitler vs Director of the SA

The film Hitler - The Rise, is worth a watch by any master student of frame control. Here at 2:00:00 we see a great frame battle between Hitler and the director of the SA. Hitler sets the frame by asking him to not speak, the director takes it back by responding but Hitler ultimately takes it back by giving him a job.

In a social situations the person you are talking to says 'I need to go'...

'I need to go'

You respond 'Ok but first I have one more thing to run past you quickly' then you continue chatting about whatever you want.

Accuse them of being difficult in a trivial way

scheduling excuses

Someone I want to go on a date with keeps giving me scheduling excuses about going out together. I respond: Wow I usually don't have this difficult of a time negotiating a date!


Appeal to their 3rd party credibility

Here's an email I sent to the managers of a coworking space I had a membership with:
I tested the wifi down/up the today and it was 5MB/2MB, last month it was 18MB down/up... So I'm hoping that changes soon... Thanks again to you and Eddie for providing this excellent space that we can all be extraordinarily productive. If you have a particular place you would like a 5 star review or video testimonial posted for Espacio let me know...

The old you would have!

The old you

If you are trying to convince someone to do something, say: the old John (or whatever their name is) would...
Order a round of shots
Do a risky business endeavor
Take a trip to Vegas
I don't know if I like this new John.

Assumption stacking

This is a more playful way of finding things out about people. As opposed to making boring small talk asking people what they do for work and play, make cheeky assumptions which they have to respond too.

Defeat a debate pivot by putting in earphones

debate pivot

A guy at the communal breakfast table begins making fun of my healthy vegetarian breakfast. I bring up a couple of pieces of evidence supporting my dietary beliefs. As opposed to addressing my points of evidence he starts spouting strong negative opinions about Obama. He's trying to pivot the argument to something where he believes there is more evidence on his side. As opposed to countering his arguments about Obama. I announce to the table that I am putting in my headphones and tuning out of the discussion. Then I do just that. I have the frame.

Reframe someone's ultimatum as a threat

couple breaking up
A devious pickup artist describes how he avoids committed relationships with the girls he's dating. A girl he's dating comes to him with an ultimatum of exclusivity, here's the gist of his 'relationship talk' spiel:
I'll always talk to you about anything...
Baby don't threaten me...
Even if I wanted to say yes to this, I can't now because you've made it a threat...
I'm flattered that you like me that much...
We are spending time together because we are happy to together...
If our relationship ever became none-voluntary, then it wouldn't be happy...
If I couldn't see other people, I may feel like I was limited that would make me resent you...
I don't ever want to resent you...
If it's better for you to leave me, you should leave right now...
He begins the talk by describing a little more concise version of the same re-frame:
I'm really enjoying getting to know you.
Right now I don't want figuring out this complicated relationship thing to get in the way of enjoying getting to know you.
If I ever stop enjoying you I'll let you know.

Suggest a Language Barrier

Language Barrier

Once upon finishing a project I received an unhappy, rambling email from one of my Panamanian clients, as opposed to logically addressing everything he said in the email I simply suggested that there was a language barrier and apologized for my less than fluent Spanish.
He responded with a much more cheerful tone and actually admitted that he was frustrated about other things and we continued to work together.

Emotional Push Pull Scenario Game

Emotional Push Pull

This consists of a question and answer game where you are creating highly emotional hypothetical situations. The goal of the game is to bring your partner through a wide range of emotions. Get them reacting to you. Classic frame control. An example that might get you into trouble:
Let's play a game... It's not a serious game
Let's say I came to you and told you that I thought you were really intelligent and creative and a fighter and I want you to join my enterprise and I made you a really good offer... What would you say?
What about if you had to leave your country and family for 5 years to work with me in ________? What would you do?
Lets say we started doing business and you were really good at it and you were making more money than you ever have before. But something else started happening too. We started having sex. Lots of sex. Would you feel like: Opportunity knows no boundaries, and sometimes in life you have to chase it across borders and you end up making love to a foreigner under foreign stars! Would you embrace the adventure or would you feel like you had really violated your professional integrity?
Let's say you were in too deep. You stayed with me. But then something very disturbing happened, I stopped paying you. Every time you asked about it I would come up with some clever reason why you hadn't gotten paid or why it was taking longer than it should. What would you do?
Then you got a very troubling knock on your door, it was the immigration service and it turned out that there a was a big problem with your VISA. Then you noticed you were late. You got a pregnancy test it came back positive. And it actually turned out that you were having twins. What would you do? Would you return to your own country and raise the kids?

Take away someone's frame after they win a debate

win a debate

I'm sitting with some friends at a bar, two of my friends at the table are having a debate about sex roles. My friend Chris is making his points in humorous way and reframing Ruth's viewpoints as defensive, emotional and reactive. Chris has the frame. Eventually Ruth is floored and has nothing else to say, she looks dejected. I then tell Chris: You won! How does it feel?
Now Chris feels a little bad for verbally beating up his opponent. I have the frame.

Refuse questions. Describe fantasies

refuse questions

I was at a bar with my friend Max and two girls. I kept leaving to talk to two other girls sitting nearby. One of the girls we are with starts getting a little jealous and asks me: Where were you just a minute ago?
As opposed to answering her question I respond: Panama
She laughs and asks me the question again...
I respond: I was visiting Panama in my mind just now, going on a flight of fantasy.
Then I ask her about which country she goes to her in fantasies.

Explain your jokes

Explain your jokes

I (sometimes on purpose) tell really stupid jokes and if people don't laugh I start explaining the joke to them as you would a child. When they interrupt me I jump to the conclusion that they didn't understand the joke in the first place. The problem isn't with my stupid joke, it's with their comprehension... This works great when there is a little bit of language barrier.

The Reach-in/Elbow Tap Interruption

Adam Lyons hilariously describes at 1:34:00 in the talk above how you can take frame control by how you are physical interacting.

Convince those in power with novel information

Convince those in power

Powerful CEOs and leaders feel most powerful and are less open to being swayed one way or another when operating in their area of expertise. Make the leaders feel less powerful and confident by talking about stuff they don’t know about. Introduce a nuance of the matter they may have not considered, then make your pitch. Post-pitch, remind them who’s the boss, so they feel empowered by their position to act on your information.

The Salsa pickup

Latin dancing can definitely teach you a thing or two about physical frame control. What you almost never want to do is ask a girl to dance. What works so much better it to tap her elbow, slide your hand down her forearm, take her hand (lightly), and then just half turn your back to her as you lead her to the dancefloor. Try to do this in one fluid movement.
If I'm going to transition to the silly dancing shown above, I typically do so just by telling her: I'm going to teach you a dance move from my country.

Calling out the awkwardness

In this video Jesse, a Pickup Artist, get shot down by several girls he approaches. While he doesn't recover the interaction or score a date (hey it's a 'numbers game' as they say) he does a text book job managing the awkwardness.

  1. He calls out the awkwardness.
  2. Makes a silly joke.
  3. Changes the subject and makes an attempt to re-engage.

Oskar Schindler negotiating with the Nazi

Schindler was a businessman, seducer, ethical hedonist and a classic Limitless character. You've probably watched Schindler's LIst a long time ago, watch it again through the lens of social dynamics and you'll see why it's regarded as one of the greatest movies ever. Here at 1:43:00 Schindler compares the drunk nazi commandant to a merciful Roman emperor. He suggests the greatest way to exercise power is to extend arbitrary clemency to one's subjects, in this case the Jews in the concentration camp.

In the comments below...

Let me know which of these frame control tactics you are planning on stealing to use for your own pleasure and profit.

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