What my 1-year-old daughter taught me about framing

By March 29, 2011Presentation Skills

Rosie. Communication Coach.We bought Rosie a shape sorter. It’s a wooden box with holes cut out – a square, a star, a circle, a pyramid and so on – and pieces for her to push through the holes. It is cleverly designed such that each piece will fit through only one hole.

Rosie normally tries it for a few seconds, then thrusts the piece in my direction, shouts “ta” and expects me to do it. Encouraged to try again, she loves it when the piece drops in, laughing and clapping her hands.

Once all the pieces are in, I release a catch on one of the sides and empty the pieces out. Being 1, she can repeat the operation a dozen times without getting bored.

Yesterday, she learned to release the catch. Now she has one of the sides permanently removed, and drops in all the pieces through the gaping hole, along with other toys, bits of her dinner, crayons and anything else she can lay her hands on.

My first response was to fix the catch. How else will she learn to fit the shapes through the right hole? But to her, that’s not the point. The annoying little holes were the problem. Her goal was to put things in the box. Opening the catch solved the problem. We have a very happy girl and a box full of junk.

“Define the problem” I tell clients. “Get a common understanding” I say. “Frame it”. How those words sting today. Thank you Rosie.

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