Want To Be More Persuasive? Maybe Even More Romantic? Don't Forget The Value of a Good Frame

Want To Be More Persuasive?  Maybe Even More Romantic?  Don't Forget The Value of a Good Frame

Framing influences our choices every day.  Why are we willing to pay $10 for a glass of wine at a fancy restaurant when we could buy a bottle of the same wine for $12?  The reputation and décor of a restaurant are forms of framing – cues for judging what kind of situation we’re in and thus how to judge events. 


Sociologist Erving Goffman described as “focused interaction” situations in which people openly join together to sustain a single common focus of concern.  When we play games, for example, we know that certain types of unsporting or must-win behaviors are unacceptable.  After all, it’s just a game.  When people share a definition of a situation, certain rules apply.  The “frame” provides everyone involved with guidelines about what should and should not be said or done.

So, why do we enter into so many conversations or allow them to continue without providing useful frames?  Sure, it would sound ridiculous to say, “Before we start talking, I just want you to know that we’re about to have a pleasant conversation so stick to those rules.”  But what if someone is getting the wrong impression of your intentions?  What if due to a defensive mood, he takes a conversation down a destructive path?  To add a bit more delicacy, let’s suppose this relationship matters.  Then a frame might save the day.

Consider two people having a romantic dinner.  They’re laughing, enjoying each other’s company and suddenly one of them waves at the waiter and asks for the check.  That could easily violate the romance frame.  The other person might feel insulted due to clumsy closure of an otherwise perfect evening.

Can disaster be averted in a case like this?  A recovery frame such as “That’s not the first time I’ve violated all rules for being smooth” might inject a little humor.   The unromantic behavior is defined as a mishap, a product of human frailty, rather than an intended insult or the actions of a buffoon.

When we don’t pay attention to the mismatch of or poorly employed frames, bad things happen in conversations.  When a frame is violated in an awkward or rude way and no saving frame is employed, a relationship can be threatened.

Without frames, especially in delicate situations, conversations often operate in clouds of ambiguity leaving the people involved wishing they’d been somewhere else.  Skilful negotiators are very handy at framing in ways that facilitate their goals.  So, too, are effective communicators.  If you haven’t been paying attention to frames, consider starting now.  It just might raise your work and social life to a new level.

Photo:  PathDoc/Shutterstock

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China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

Credit: STR via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

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