Reframing What’s Wrong to Make It Right

President Obama is currently on the stump advocating two things. First, he wants a raise in the minimum wage. Second, he wants women to receive equal pay for equal work. These have been decades long intractable issues. I believe that language has played a big part in their failure to gain traction. Perhaps reframing these issues is the change that would serve everyone.

It’s clear that paying people more would benefit everyone. And, by everyone I include corporations that at least one presidential candidate declared are “people too, my friend.”

What if we simply changed the language of President Obama’s advocacy, since any economic theory bears out that business needs consumers. Simply put, corporations need people to buy stuff. Investors need corporations to sell stuff, so they make money on their investments.

What if language would change everything?

Instead of “raising the minimum wage,” I recommend President Obama rename the issue. He should call it the initiative to “make more customers for business.”

The nature of the argument would be that it is anti-business to allow 50 million people to make less than $24,000 annually. It’s not a moral issue. It’s just that these folks can’t buy stuff.

A similar change in language might work for the women’s equal pay issue. How about President Obama changing it around. The new initiative could be: “men’s right to earn equal pay to women.” That might scare up some funds to level the paying field.

Of course, these politically charged issues seem like they aren’t a simple language fix. But, we’ve seen language make a difference. When we called “inheritance tax” a “death tax,” even people who have no chance of ever inheriting a dime rallied to stop it.

I don’t know if government will work better for us if we simply change the way we talk about the issues of the day, but I do know that language matters.

I wonder how you can talk about your concerns at work and perhaps in life, in a new way. And, I wonder how you can successfully win over your opposition, just by reframing your issues.