Re-framing: a lawyer’s skill and a coping mechanism

One way to persuade is to re-frame, to present information in a different light, one that catches the reader’s, listener’s or juror’s interest.  One can do it with all or part of a story as a way of coming to terms with confusing, conflicting or unsettling information.

In addition to being a useful professional tool. re-framing can be a useful personal technique for coping with  bad news like the economic forecasts and political posturing that appear at dawn and never leave.  Putting one’s personal stamp on it, re-framing it, is a way of exercising a measure of control and staying on an even keel, which beats taking it on the chin day after day, listening in silence, offering no resistance.  Here are three examples of re-framing recent stories in the news.

1.  A way to think of Russ Limbaugh apart from the options offered by the Democrats and Republicans:  as a powerful bore.

2.  Watching members of Congress berate and belittle Chairman Bernanke and Secretary Geithner is like watching arsonists criticize the fire department.

3.  A way to put the bi-partisan outrage over the $165,000,000 in AIG bonuses in perspective:  Divide $165,000,000 (the amount of the bonuses) by $170,000,000,000 (the amount of the AIG bailout) .  One hundred sixty-five million dollars sounds like a lot of money … until viewed as a percentage of the entire AIG bailout.  That percentage is .10%.  Whipping up popular outrage over the decision to pay .10% of the government funded AIG bailout makes sense … as a distraction.  Members of Congress aided and abetted Wall Street’s fantastic, destructive illusions by not understanding the world  of finance, focusing on campaign contributions and assuming that a free market would – in the end – sort everything out.  Now politicians are fomenting populist anger which may, in the end, turn out to be something they – the politicians – are not able to manipulate.