The Geometry of Conversation 2
When I was in Phoenix, I awoke one morning with the map of the complex PULSE Frame in my head. I have been working to free it to the paper ever since. Imagine the three sided PULSE Frame as an equilateral triangle. Now expand your vision by adding another dimension so that now you have a tetrahedron, a shape with four equilateral triangles. One serves as the base and the others wrap around the sides of the front face. If you unfold that tetrahedron out so that it lays flat you get a larger equilateral triangle, one at the top and three that fit inside each other to form the base. Are you with me?
Let’s look at each of the four triangles individually.
The first one at the top of the new larger triangle is the PULSE Frame with four parallel lines that divide it into five sections that we call Prepare, Uncover, Learn, Search and Explain. Prepare is the base of the triangle and it gives it its strength. If you further divide Preapre into equilateral triangles you get 9. Uncover divides into 7. Learn into 5 and Search into 3 and Explain is another equilateral triangle. These braces strengthen the structure and form diamonds and triangles galore – glorious triangles and diamonds.
Each of those triangles is full of meaning. PREPARE – 9 internal triangles
1. Set the tone and welcome: This is where the Delta or Conversation Leader works to create a welcoming and safe environment for inquiry. This is where the curiousity begins. “Thank you for coming” sets the voluntary nature of the conversation.
2. State the Purpose: Identifying out loud the purpose of the meeting makes it clear to everyone that we are here to come up with a plan … not just to Talk about things … but to talk about them until a mutually agreeable resolution has been reached.
3. Outline the Protocol: Invite parties to speak Gently and Honestly, to be Open to what is being said and to be Specific and use examples. Let them know that this kind of conversation works best when people agree to Talk , to say what is on their mind in a gentle way so that the other person can keep listening.
4. Describe the Process: The Process has five guiding questions … How will the conversation proceed, What is the conversation about, Why is it important to them, What could they do and What do they agree to do …. and five stages … Prepare, where the delta talks to the parties, Uncover where the parties speak individually, one at a time to the Delta; Learn where the parties have a chance to speak directly to each other; Search where the parties have an opportunity to brainstorm possible actions; and Explain where the parties work with the Delta to create a detailed plan of what they agree to do.
5. Establish Confidentiality or Audience: Theses kind of conversation work best when people feel comfortable about saying things they may otherwise keep to themselves. Agreeing to keep a level of confidentiality that makes it possible for them to share is important. Establishing who needs to know about the conversation and about the Plan of action that will result from the meeting at the beginning is important. Even if decisions about who sees the plan change when once it is written is revisited later, introducing it hear is important.
6. Determine Authority: The questions here are aimed at focusing the dialogue around things that are within the circle of influence or authority of the people in the room. If parties have come to resolve or decide on something that they have no power to change, then the conversation purpose changes. The Delta’s role is to keep them on topics that they do have the authority to do something about.
7. Describe Roles: The role of the Delta or Conversation Leader is to direct traffic, to ask the questions and record the answers, to listen and to guide the conversation using the PULSE skills to release the power of the participants to create a future together. The role of the parties is to stay engaged and use the protocol until the process is complete.
8. Set a Time: These kinds of conversations are most efficient and effective when they are scheduled for 60 to 90 minutes. PULSE conversation can also occur at the water cooler or over a five day retreat. Brief encounters can follow the structure and have great outcomes as can strategic planning sessions. Setting the time at the beginning helps people focus on the topic at hand because they know that it is for a designated amount of time.
9. Invite parties to the next level: Are you ready to proceed? Establishing a commitment to the purpose, process, protocol, level of confidentiality and authority, the roles and the time means establishing a commitment to the conversation and the relationship and the outcome it is the first step in shifting responsibility for the outcome to the parties.
UNCOVER – 7 internal triangles
1. Ask: What? What are you here to resolve? What is the title of the story that brought people to this conversation? What are the circumstances from the past that have brought people? Parties talk to the Delta at this point, one at a time to describe the situation from their Perspective. This is where the Delta begins to identify the unique Perspective of each participant and begins to listen for what might be shared.
2. Hush: Just listen. Quiet your mind and pay attention.
3. Empathise: silently. Imagine how it is from their perspective.
4. Attend: Watch body language, and facial expressions. Look for emotional response. Listen to the choice of language, pace and tone.
5. Reflect: Build rapport by matching and mismatching what you see, hear and experience.
6. Trust: Trust that people are doing the best they can with what they know.
7. Name the title or circumstance: Listen for the common title that all participants can agree is the thing they are there to do something about….. a one word title for the story. And invite participants to speak to each other in the next piece.
LEARN – 5 internal triangles
Although this piece of the Frame requires the patient, deep listening of HEART, it also requires the more deliberate evidence of listen provided with POWER.
1. Paraphrase: Show parties that you have heard what they have said by repeating it back to them or using similar words to represents the ideas they have shared.
2. Open questions: Use open questions to let them lead the conversation and to encourage them to think about what’s important to them or what’s missing.
3. Wait: “Why Am I Talking” Listen. Give them time to think and consider what has been said. Honour the time it takes to work it through. Let them have the responsibility for the answers.
4. Empathise: Name the level of emotion so that they know you “get it”. “You feel strongly” … or “this has been difficult” … work well.
5. Reframe: Identify unique and common Beliefs, Expectations, Assumptions, Concerns and Hopes … what is missing … the criteria for a collaborative future.
SEARCH – 3 internal triangles
As they Brainstorm, say nothing, capture their ideas and pay attention to …
1. Content: Are they on topic?
2. Process: Are they describing future actions?
3. Response: Are they calmer now and have they shifted to a place where they can see each other’s perspectives without necessarily agreeing with it.
EXPLAIN 1 triangle
1. The tip – the pinnacle – the plan: Is the possibility of a successful relationship firmly in place?
Triangle 2 of the larger tetrahedron forms the base of the tetrahedron when it is folded. Triangle 2 is also a tetrahedron that folds up inside the bigger one and spins to create the centrifugal force that keeps the conversation moving forward. What I see there are the skills that support the PULSE Frame and Process. Each of the faces of this smaller tetrahedron represents a set of skills. The three outside faces are divided into five sections like the Front face of the PULSE Frame. Each section is labelled starting at the base – Gentle Honest Open Specific Talk – on one face. Another face has the same five sections labelled from the base – Paraphrase, Open question, Wait, Empathise, Reframe. And the third face is divided into five sections and labelled starting at the base – Hush, Empathise, Attend, Reflect and Trust. The inner triangle which forms the base of the inner tetrahedron when it is folded contains the wheel of change and the five associated skills – Normalizing, Confronting, Transparency, Bridging and Immediacy.
Triangle 3 is to the left of 2. It represents the Response support for the PULSE Conversation. Inside this triangle you find the three points form triangles of their own and the space that is left is filled with a circle with 9 points and sections each with a forty degree view of the world. These are the nine BEACHS, sets of Beliefs, Expectations, Assumptions, Concerns and Hopes, the perspectives or frames of reference that people bring to PULSE Conversations. The Enneagram connector lines are also present in the diagram. There is a triangle inside the circle and lines connecting the other 6 points. The three other triangles that lie outside the circle are labelled. The bottom left is Freeze, the top centre is Fight and the bottom right is Flight. These are the human reflexes related to fear and threat that often lead to a need for structured conversation.
Triangle 4 to the right of 2 on the larger tetrahedron represents the content support for the PULSE Frame and Conversations. This is the power of Appreciative Inquiry. There you find a hexagon within the triangle which is further divided into six triangles and outside of the hexagon are three more triangles one at each of the three original angles. The top three triangles of the hexagon are labelled “To be Positive”, “To be Heard”, “To be Known”. The bottom three triangles are labelled “to choose”, “to act”, “to dream”. These six sections represent the six freedoms created in PULSE. The three outside triangles are labelled too. The lower left is Release. The upper point is Relax and the lower right is Relate. These are the automatic reflexes experienced by human beings when the threat is removed. A rotating image of the PULSE Complex Conversation If you know the PULSE Frame you will begin to see the strength and complexity of it visually represented with this new map. Setting the triangles in place creates the cross beams that lend the strength that is otherwise invisible but is always there, holding the conversation in place.
This is an excerpt from the new book … The Complex PULSE that I am writing for the Advanced PULSE Practitioners who are coming to Calgary in a couple of weeks. Comments and questions are welcome…..