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The power tool is a unique principle for successful outcome of a guided conversation

POWER is a five letter acronym that stands for Paraphrase, Open questions, Wait, Empathise and Reframe. It is part of the principles for guiding conversations in the PULSE discovery by Dr Nancy Love of the PULSE Institute Inc. 

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It is a powerful tool that mediators, Human Resource Managers and other leaders can employ in facilitating conversations between people when resolving differences.  The purpose of the PULSE POWER tool is to listen and provide evidence of listening to the speaker.

    PARAPHRASE- A paraphrase is used to let the other person know that you have heard what they have said. You repeat your understanding of what they have said adding no opinion or editorial comments, not agreeing or disagreeing but just summarising or using their own words. The purpose is to provide the speaker with evidence of your having heard them.

    OPEN QUESTIONS – Using who, what, why, when, where, how, tell me more or words like that will give the speaker a chance to give you information. Rich description of the situation, the impact, the intention will all come from open questions. Closed questions that elicit yes or no as a response will often sound leading and may lead the person to feel that they are undergoing interrogation. Ask questions with a purpose. Begin with the more general questions and move to the more accurate, hinging your next question on the answer to the one before.

    WAIT – Waiting for some time after a question or even a provocative statement allows people to process the information and SEARCH their own thoughts for an appropriate and honest response. Jumping in too quickly will shut down the creative thinking process that the questions or statements have started. Silence is often counterintuitive in our culture, and it is very active in promoting shifts in perspective.

    EMPATHISE – Empathy is about acknowledging the emotion without becoming emotional. “I can see that you feel strongly about this.” Only naming the emotion or acknowledging its presence defuses the situation almost immediately. “WOW, sounds like this has been frustrating or difficult for you.” This kind of statement allows the parties to either confirm a name for the emotion or refute your hunch and tell you how they are feeling. “I’m not frustrated. I’m disappointed.” Just having the courage to attempt to name an emotion is like calling the elephant in the room and allows everyone to see it and deal with it appropriately.

    REFRAME – Reframing is the naming of the underlying interest, the Belief, Expectation, Assumption, Concern, Hope, (BEACH) Value, Need, or Preference that is contributing to the disagreement or issue. The purpose of the reframe is to change the person’s perspective on the issue by identifying what is missing. It sounds like “… so you value confidentiality.” You can usually find the interest by looking for the opposite of any negativity you hear from the parties. “She is always late” becomes “… so punctuality is important to you.” Identifying two individual interests for each party and two that they have in common is often enough to PREPARE them to generate OPTIONS for resolution. Neglecting to identify individual interests can be dangerous. It is those unique interests that brought them into conflict. They need to be acknowledged for parties to understand where the dispute originated. The shared interests give them something to build on as they move toward the future.

Reframing puts issues in terms that both parties can understand and which will lead them towards collaboration. This tool is used to emphasise a positive goal, accentuate a common ground, and identify underlying needs. It aids in eliminating accusations and blames and expands the fullers meaning of a party’s statement thereby creating a shift in positional statements.

When this happens, attitudes and responses to the situation can also change, changing the possibilities for the future.

It is therefore important as a mediator or conversational leader to always employ your POWER tools for a successful mediation process.

(Extract from Complex Pulse, CONVERSATIONS FOR C CHANGE written by Dr Nancy Love)

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