April 22, 2021

The Art Of Framing

This is the fourth in a series of short essays I wrote as part of the Ship 30 for 30 program. You can read all thirty essays here.

My wife and I recently looked at a nursery for our young son. We had heard good things and were excited to see it.

But our guide was not a natural salesperson. She walked us through the rooms making deprecatory remarks while shrugging her shoulders. The garden contained all kinds of fun-looking items. She explained that staff like to reclaim and re-purpose random discarded objects. “They bring in all kinds of junk,” she said apologetically.

As we approached the exit, she casually mentioned how their rooms and activities were designed to cater to the different schemas children use to understand the world. She told us of their global penpal project that helps the toddlers learn about different global cultures and mentioned their weekly baby signing classes.

Now she was saying things we liked the sound of, but as an afterthought. We left unconvinced.

Imagine if our guide had framed things differently, highlighting how they prioritise structuring a child’s learning around their schemas. Or how they have the best garden and a wider range of activities than other local nurseries. How they encourage children to use their imagination and develop their creativity by re-purposing items. How they promote equality and diversity from an early age.

We would have committed on the spot.

It’s not that she didn’t tell us these things. She did, but with an off-putting, underwhelming manner. After speaking to some friends, we still chose the nursery, but it was despite our tour, not because of it.

In our lives, we frame things all the time; work presentations, side hustle pitches, job applications, social media posts, conversations with loved ones. When doing so, make sure you create the impression you want to make. Make your case thoughtfully. Everything is a pitch. Don’t undersell yourself.