The P.E.A.C.E. Process

P resent  Points-of-view


  • Present a clear statement or request.


  • Explain how you view the situation from your perspective.
  • Explain your real underlying needs and why they are important to you.
  • Inquire, listen, and acknowledge your partner’s  point-of-view.   


E xplore Options for Change (Brainstorm)


  • Explore all possibilities.  Be creative and nonrestrictive.  
  • Don’t evaluate, reject, or choose while exploring.


  • Invent multiple options to address both sets of underlying needs.
  • Use BRAINSTORMING TECHNIQUES to create ands from ors.


gree on Plan A (Agreement)


  • Agree on the option that best meets both your needs.
  • Agree on specifically what each of you will, and will not, do.
  • Agree on contingencies: who takes responsibility for what if the plan falters.


PLAN A  (Agreement)

  • Write or state explicitly in the form of Agreement or Contract.
  • Assumes openness to the later possibility of an improved Plan B.


C onvert to action 


Change !

  • Enact your Agreement as planned.
  • Change your behaviors; act in a new way.


E valuate and Refine


  •  Did it work as planned?  Did anything prevent you from doing what you agreed to do? Were your needs met?  How did it feel?    



  • Plug this feedback back into P.E.A.C.E. Process to adjust Plan A as needed. 
  • Repeat until you’ve create an improved “Plan B” that works better for you both. 
  • Repeat as new information comes in.


THE P.E.A.C.E. PROCESS, Unpacked

P resent Points-of-view  

P is for:
     Points-of-view (a.k.a. Perspective), and
     Productive Dialogue.

•    This step involves using the principles and skills of Productive Dialogue, to present  and thoroughly discuss each persons’ own perspectives and needs.

•    Presenting one’s needs & points-of-view represents the starting point only of a dialogue; it is NOT a mandate, ultimatum, or final position.

•    Points-of-View reflect the individual lenses through which people see, and thus, because all POV’s necessarily differ, each person’s own POV must be sufficiently explained before an informed negotiation can proceed.

•    Needs should be to the point and presented as clear statements and requests.

•    When speaking, use “I-Statements”: it shows you are speaking from your own perspective and not making (false) assumptions about your partner.

•    When listening, use “Active Listening” skills to show you understand your partner’s point-or-view.

•    Continue to dialogue until you both explain and understand the real needs underlying your positions:  try to get beyond the divisive, either-or starting positions, and explore the deeper underlying needs that gave rise to them in the first place.

E xplore options for Change: Brainstorm

•    Use Brainstorming Techniques and Creativity Skills to create new options.

•    Explore all options: be creative and nonrestrictive when inventing possibilities.

•    Explore uncriticitically, openly, and without judgment.

•    “Where there’s a will there’s a way”:  let the vision (the desired “ends”) drive the process;  ignore the “means” for now.

•    Don’t select from the options during this Step (don’t short-circuit the creative process): generate as many ideas as possible before moving on.

A gree on Plan A (the Agreement)

A means:
    Agree upon, or select, a solution:
    The Agreement itself, which is
    Plan A, or the first best guess at a mutually satisfying solution.

Agree on best solution
•    Select from among all the options the one(s) that best advances both sets of underlying needs.  There are no winners if one of you loses.
    *Equal weight should be given to logical and emotional factors alike when             considering solutions that best address underlying needs.
•    If agreement on a best solution can’t be reached,
        a) consider trying 1 or 2 options on a trial basis;
        b) agree to disagree and pursue separate agendas;
        c) agree on an objective standard, criteria, or means that will decide for you.

Agreement as Commitment
•    An agreement represents a promise or commitment.  Commitments refer to both the intent to perform an action, as well as the action or follow-through itself.  Saying “no” is as important a commitment as saying yes: it commits you to what you will not do. Saying yes or no to a request - giving your word - allows your partner to trust that you mean what you say and will do what you have agreed to.

•    Give, but don’t  give in:  Only agree to a plan freely and willingly, so that there are no strings attached or residual negative emotions (resentment, obligation).  If you can’t give freely, the negotiation probably felt unfair or unfinished, and should resume.

The Agreement (Plan A)
•    After a problem is negotiated and a solution (Plan A) is agreed upon, the agreement should be expressed verbally or in writing to specify exactly what the plan is: who is responsible for doing what, and what contingencies (back-up plans) are in place should things not go as planned.
•    Agreements are necessary because people often recall conversations differently and a contract can prevent misinterpretations that lead to further arguments.  

•    Contingencies should be included to guard against “leaving someone high and dry” if something unanticipated should occur.  

Plan A
•    Plan A represents a couple’s current best solution given the information at hand; it implies an openness to reviewing and revising the plan again later (see Step 5: Evaluation) if new information necessitates.

C onvert to action: Change

C is for:
     Convert to action (converting the word into the deed), and
     Change behavior.

Convert to action
•    Means simply to implement or enact the agreement, exactly as specified.

•    This implies: -no emotional strings (guilt, resentment, feeling put-upon),
          -your word is reliable, so that
          -no nagging or reminding is necessary; and
          -if obstacles arise, and you cannot follow through as planned, you are                  responsible for making alternative arrangements or enacting the contingencies.

•    Action, (converting ideas into actual experiences) creates new kinds of learning:  Pay attention to the new knowledge that arises from “doing” rather than from “saying”.  This information provides critical feedback needed to evaluate, refine, and update, Plan A  (Step 5):
•    Growth cannot occur without change (you can’t grow if you’re unwilling to change).

•    Real change often occurs through action first:   new understanding follows after new behaviors have been exercised.  Old emotional habits, like behaviors, can be replaced with new emotional habits through practice and repetition.  Soon they become comfortable as well.

•    Change for yourself, or to improve your overall relationship, not to gain your partner’s approval or if you feel coerced.

•    Change is a risk that can be taken only when there is a context of physical and emotional safety.

•    When trying something new, think of  stretching your comfort zone rather than altering yourself or giving something up.

E valuate and refine

Importance of this final step:
•    Allows couples to customize solutions to fit their own personalities, values, and lifestyles, since no two relationships and no two individuals are alike.

•    Insures a dynamic, flexible, responsive process in which there are no “failures” -only new data to be fed back into the process.

•    Challenges the belief that there exists a “single best solution” or one permanent panacea for all time, all people.

•    Defines conflict-resolution as an ongoing process, not an outcome.


After implementing Plan A, first ask yourself, and then discuss with your partner, how it went:
•    Did it work well for your relationship (was it pragmatic)?
•    Did it go as planned?
•    Were there any obstacles (time, unexpected events, emotional blocks, etc.)?    
•    How did it feel / how did you feel?
•    Were your needs met?
•    Did new needs (or new information) arise?

Plug this new data - these new insights - back into the overall P.E.A.C.E.  Process to update as needed:
•    P resent and discuss new needs
•    E xplore new options that might better address them
•    A gree on improved and revised Plan “B”
•    C overt it to action
•    E valuate and refine, as needed.
THEN, go ahead and Evaluate and Refine the overall P.E.A.C.E. Process  itself, if desired, to create and customize a different process that works better for you both!