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The Power of PULSE

What is PULSE?

PULSE is an idea.  PULSE is an opportunity to have a conversation where everyone is heard, acknowledged and understood.  PULSE is an opportunity to share a story from the past, learn its impact in the present thereby identifying what’s missing so that the future can be different. It is opportunity to connect with others through conversation.  It is a chance to move from fight, flight or freeze to release, relax and relate.  PULSE is an opportunity.

The 11th Verse of the Tao Te Ch’ing speaks of the hole in the centre of a wheel’s hub as the point of power and the space inside a clay vessel as the part that is useful and the usefulness of a room in the emptiness, not the walls and doors and windows.  So it is with PULSE.  We see the Frame but it is the space within the Frame that is truly useful.

A PULSE Practitioner is someone who has become familiar with the purpose, process and protocol of the PULSE conversation.  PULSE Practitioners accept the future solution focused approach and the appreciative stance necessary within the Frame.  PULSE Practitioners know how to hold people capable and accountable for their own words and actions and they value people, knowing that they are all unique with their own combinations of vices and virtues.  PULSE Practitioners know that words create worlds so they are deliberate in their choice of words.  They are People Using Language Skills Effectively – PULSE.

PULSE is based on the premise that people are capable of resolving differences and solving problems.  The Frame is built so as to hold them capable and accountable for their own past, present and future.  It assumes that social reality is created through conversation and that by committing to and remaining in dialogue for 90 minutes people will generate a sustainable plan of action.  What is needed is an appreciative stance where people look for what has worked in the past or is working elsewhere, then look at why the successful approach is significant and ways to bring those good things from the past into the present and the future.

PULSE’s future focus expects that people will not dwell in the past once the emotion of the past has been successfully acknowledged. “This has been difficult for you” is something we say to acknowledge without agreeing.  PULSE’s future focus expects that people will recognize their criteria for a better future once they see or hear them.  Reframing the negative complaints into a positive criteria takes practice and can be as simply as identifying the opposite of what the complaint is about.  The deliberate use of and focus on positives in the PULSE Frame doesn’t ignore the negative.  It uses it as information for what NOT to do, what will not succeed.  PULSE’s future focus expects that people can imagine a better future and that once they articulate concrete actions with deadlines and details that they will move toward that future.

Each Frame within the Frame is deliberate and purposeful.  It is carefully structured.  The structure as indicated by its name is only something to look through.  It offers a new way of seeing the situation.  The guiding questions and the protocol focus attention within the Frame at the positive picture within the picture.  The possibilities that are recognized within the Frame and that result in plans that no one would have considered separately come from the opportunity to think together.



There are seven pieces within the Prepare piece of the Frame; purpose, process, protocol, confidentiality, authority, roles and time.  The presentation of PREPARE is often divided into two parts; one where parties meet individually with the PULSE Practitioner and then again when everyone meets together.  Alternatively people are given an opportunity to learn about PULSE before they enter into a PULSE conversation through such means as reading this article.  Let’s look at each of the seven parts of PREPARE individually.

1.       PURPOSE

The purpose of the meeting will determine the number of participants and their roles.  A PULSE Coaching Session will have only the Practitioner and the coached.  The purpose may be to resolve a particular issue or to generate a performance plan. If the coach is also the supervisor, that is a different kind of conversation than one with a personal or life coach.  If two people have agreed to settle a difference using PULSE then there will be three people including the Practitioner or two if one is a Practitioner and is negotiating a plan of action which includes the Practitioner.  Determining and stating the purpose of the meeting at the very onset puts everyone at ease.  The purpose is positively stated in measurable terms and serves as a goal for the meeting.  The goal and the purpose are usually related to designing a plan of action for a better future together.  Stating the purpose as if it is already in place, with no hesitancy or doubt will move people toward that goal.  The confidence demonstrated by the Practitioner in the process and in the participants waylays any fear or anxiety about the process or their own ability to write a plan of action.

2.       PROCESS

Depending on the purpose of the conversation a pre-meeting is scheduled to prepare people for the conversation or information is distributed ahead of time so that parties come prepared and so that there are no surprises. The idea is to value people’s time and intelligence, to let them know the process and how it works.  As a result people are more prepared to work within the process and to trust that if they use the protocol and the process they will come to a better solution or resolution than they may have otherwise.  So Practitioners state the purpose of the meeting as a positive goal.  Then they outline the process; Prepare for conversation, Uncover the circumstance, Learn the significance of the circumstance, Search possibilities to meet the criteria (what is significant – reframed) and Explain a detailed plan of action moving forward.

While explaining the process the Practitioner will also indicate the direction of the conversation and the guiding question at each of the steps.  In Prepare the conversation leader or PULSE Practitioner will do most of the talking explaining the purpose, process, protocol, establishing levels of confidentiality, authority, clarifying the roles and the time frame for the conversation.   They will answer the question: How will this conversation proceed?”  In Uncover, everyone gets a chance to answer the question “What are you here to resolve or decide today?”  Everyone takes a turn to explain what circumstance from the past has brought them to the meeting.  In Learn, there is open dialogue around the question “What about this circumstance is important to you?” In Search the question is “What could you do to meet your criteria and resolve the circumstance?”  Everyone offers suggestions that are recorded by the Practitioner in a brainstorm activity.  In Explain, the Practitioner acts as scribe while others dictate the contents, the details, of the plan of action. The guiding question is “What do you agree to do?”

3.       PROTOCOL

Once the process has been explained, the protocol is presented.  PULSE conversations rely on a GHOST protocol.  The Practitioner rarely uses the word GHOST but uses it to remember the five elements of the protocol.  People are asked to speak Gently to one another, to speak so that others can keep listening.  In PULSE we use Gentle rather than respectful because we have found that out of respect people hold things back or say things in ways that do not get to the meat of the issue.  That can be counterproductive so speaking Honestly AND Gently are encouraged.  The idea is to say what you are thinking in a way that allows the other person to hear it.  Honesty is also important because sustainable resolutions or solutions come from good information.  A missing piece of information could be the key.  People are asked to be Open to hear what is being said and to allow what they hear to influence their version of the story.  They are asked to be curious about the other stories and courageous about telling their own.  People are also asked to use Specific examples and events to bring clarity to the conversation.  Often people are talking about different things and using the same word.  It can be confusing.  Sharing Specific examples ensures that everyone is one the same page.  And people are encouraged to TALK.  Without Talk there is no resolution or decision.  Gentle, Honest, Open, Specific Talk leads to sustainable, mutually agreeable plans of actions.


PULSE conversations can be held in confidence or not.  Usually the Practitioner will agree to keep the conversation confidential and to share the plan only with those that everyone agrees ought to see it.  People in conversation can decide whether or not they would prefer a confidential conversation.  Often if there are emotional issues then keeping the conversation confidential is a good idea.  It allows people to say what they are thinking with confidence.  If there has previously been a lack of trust then                                                                                                                                                                                                    hearing the other people state that they will keep things confidential may be the starting point for rebuilding the trust.  The trick is to have everyone agree on a level of confidentiality that is comfortable. Again, focusing on the future level of confidentiality rather than the past is important.

5.       AUTHORITY

PULSE conversations focus on resolving or solving things that are within the control or authority of those present.  What that may mean is that those present do not make decisions for others.  They write a plan of action that outlines what THEY agree to do.  Coming in, some people are not sure if they have the authority.  The Practitioner’s job is to reassure them that the conversation will focus on topics and decisions that are within their authority and that they will only make decisions for themselves.  Again this serves to relax people.  It is important because we too often have wonderful conversations and make magnificent plans about things we do not have the authority to implement.  This is not productive.   PULSE conversations  are  time well spent with outcomes that are sustainable because they are feasible, doable and within the authority of those present.


6.       ROLES

It is also important at the beginning of a conversation to set out with some clarity the roles of those present.  People in the conversation are asked to participate and to work toward a mutually agreeable plan of action for the full time allotted. The PULSE Practitioners role is to manage the process.  Sometimes that means they are impartial.  Sometimes they are vested.  Both work but you have to be clear at the beginning which it is.  “Who are the decision makers in the room?” is a key question when you are outlining how the decision will be made.

7.       TIME

PULSE conversations are always scheduled for 90 minutes.  Physiologically that is the optimum time for engaging in productive conversation.  Psychologically it is long enough for people to say their piece and shift their thinking.  The 90 minutes also indicates a commitment from everyone present to deal with the circumstance at hand.  Sometimes resolution is reached sooner but generally a PULSE conversation moves through the five stages of the process in the 90 minute frame naturally.  It is enough time to have people uncover the circumstances from the past, learn the significance in the present or the criteria for a better future, search possibilities for resolving the circumstance in the future given the criteria and explain, in writing a plan of action moving forward.  PULSE happens even when we are unaware.  PULSE is a discovery rather than an invention and if you watch people in a 90 minute productive conversation, they will follow the stages naturally, moving from the past, to the present and on to the future.


Once the preparations are in place, people are ready to move to the next stage, the UNCOVER stage.  The foundation has been laid.  Purpose, process, protocols are in place.  Levels of confidentiality and authority are established.  Roles and time frame are clear.  The Practitioner has predicted the process and the outcome for the people involved.  The Practitioner then may ask for a commitment to the process either verbally or in writing depending on the nature of the situation.  A Coach practitioner may use a listening contract.   A Mediator Practitioner may use a “Consent to Mediate” form. Or a simple “Are you ready to proceed?” may suffice to establish that everyone is all in, ready to follow the structure, to fill in the emptiness it creates, the space in the centre, with the important information that will lead to resolution or solution.


More tomorrow on the other stages ….

Dr. Nancy Love Visit Website
As an Executive Coach, a Professional Speaker and an author, Dr. Love gives the gift of courage and confidence to her clients... courage to make a change and confidence to make a difference. Learn more »
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