PROPEL Principles

by / Comments Off on PROPEL Principles / 55 View / March 15, 2015

Joan frequently unleashed a torrent of negative emotions when she was unhappy with other people’s behavior, which only made problems worse. Although she wanted to create more satisfying relationships with the people in her life, Joan had no idea how to successfully resolve conflicts with her husband, kids and coworkers.

Over the years Joan’s happiness plummeted as conflicts consumed more and more of her time, energy and attention. When she began working with a positive psychology coach she made an important discovery: one of the best ways to turn around contentious interpersonal relationships is to increase the level positivity. By harnessing the power of the PROPEL Principles, she learned to generate many more satisfying interactions than unpleasant exchanges.

The transformation began by developing a positive mental picture of how she wanted her relationships to work. Joan’s view of the future was limited because she thought in terms of what she did not want – criticism, blaming, resistance, disagreement and hostility. By learning to create a vision of how she did want – understanding, agreement, support, and cooperation – she intensified her motivation to make improvements.

At first Joan wondered how to even begin creating positive relationships when she was experiencing so many problems. She found the answer when she started paying more attention to what people did right. Instead of allowing good behavior to go unappreciated, Joan gave people the recognition and respect they needed and deserved.

Focusing on what was working well immediately began to produce more positive exchanges. Joan was able to use the good energy that was generated to build and broaden collaboration. Rather than arguing for what she wanted, Joan began asking people for their ideas regarding what a positive outcome would look like for them. That gave her the opportunity to look for areas of agreement, which enabled her establish shared goals.

When negativity threatened to prevail, Joan learned to ask people to suggest solutions that would lead them to a positive outcome. By converting people’s negative reactions into proactive thinking, Joan created conversations about what people could agree to do to move toward mutually acceptable outcomes. That strategy changed the focus from finding fault to finding the first steps that they could take to solve their problems. Staying focused on how to achieve mutually agreed upon outcomes kept everyone hopeful.

Joan discovered that identifying her strengths empowered her to be at her best more dependently. It gave her confidence to take action. Knowing other people’s strengths allowed her to help those individuals see how they, too, could consistently perform well.

The more Joan focused on people’s capabilities for helping achieve positive results, the more eagerly they engaged in working with her to help achieve those outcomes. Over time, Joan’s relationships evolved into providing encouragement and positive reinforcement for people’s efforts to improve teamwork and positive outcomes.

Joan’s family and coworkers felt great pride in the part they played in improving their ability to work together. Not only did everyone’s attitude improve, there was also a dramatic increase in their ability to produce satisfying results.

Learning to create positive engagement with people provided the crucial knowledge Joan needed to achieve this turnaround. She learned for herself, and then taught other people, to express themselves through positive exchanges rather than the intense negative outbursts that had been crippling their relationships.

When Joan would find herself or others lapsing into blaming each other for the problems that arose, she asked a series of crucial PROPEL questions that led to engaging in constructive conversations:

  • Passion came from seeing a positive outcome: “What would it look like if this problem were resolved?”
  • Relationships worked when everyone’s needs were met: “What would it look like if everyone involved enjoyed a satisfying outcome?”
  • Optimism overcame failures: “What could we do when we experience setbacks?”
  • Proactivity helped people to be at their best: “How can we use our strengths?”
  • Energy maintained motivation: “What progress have we made, and how will we sustain our efforts?”
  • Legacy ensured everyone was satisfied: “Is everyone benefitting from what’s happening?”

Joan discovered that the key to effective relationships was changing from being an enabler who contributes to creating troubled times to being a person who can empower people to work together to achieve success and satisfaction.

If you would like to learn more about how to use the PROPEL Principles in your life, email Sue Knight at for information on her 6 session class that will start on Monday evenings (6-8:30) beginning April 13 and conclude on May 18.