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PACE – a framework for BreakThrough conversations

28 May 2014

PACE – a framework for BreakThrough conversations

Effective conversations help people change their thinking and behaviours to achieve desired outcomes. The PACE conversation framework is designed to fast-track this process and can be used both within formal coaching sessions and as part of day-to-day workplace conversations.


Placement is an essential first step in any high impact conversation, however brief, and is also something that we often need to refer back to as the conversation proceeds. It covers these essential elements:

  • Topic
  • Timing
  • Desired outcome
  • Process


When you are facilitating a BreakThrough conversation your ‘contract’ with the coachee is to sustain focus on thinking and actions that will fast-track the achievement of the desired outcome. You can play a proactive role in keeping the attention focused on moving forward.

The brain perspective on this is that developing the ability to sustain attention works like a muscle. The more we use it well, it grows. Attention creates focus.

Inner focus attunes us to our intuitions, guiding values, and better decisions. Other focus smooths our connections to people in our lives. And outer focus lets us navigate in the larger world. A leader tuned out of internal world will be rudderless; one blind to the world of others will be clueless; those indifferent to the larger systems within which they operate will be blindsided.’ 

Daniel Goleman, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.



BreakThrough conversations may not always comfortable for your coachees. However, your challenge will always come from a positive belief in the potential of the other person to achieve his or her objectives. The strength of your challenge will depend on where you are in the relationship, particularly the level of trust you have established.

Your challenges in the PACE framework are an essential part of sustaining progress and breakthroughs.



One of the key elements of the Hawaiian Huna tradition is Makia – ‘Energy flows where attention goes.’ By sustaining attention on positive outcomes, supporting breakthroughs, and the potential of your coachee, you will be creating an energy that moves him or her more quickly to the desired outcome.

Individuals need belief to be able to change behaviours and thinking. Also, as we have seen already, it takes sustained, sometimes daily, attention to create new mental maps to replace the old ones that are holding someone back.

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