The Emotionally Charged Demand and Its Place In the Negotiation Process

For the record, the record is $10,000,000 among the cases I’ve handled, and it was a public accommodation discrimination case (restaurant service).

Nevertheless, I realize how hard it is to receive a demand of just about any amount.  The fact is, the counter-demand is typically just as hard to hear. It’s important to recognize these are typical, emotional starts to most mediations – and that the vast majority of cases still settle.  

In the beginning, both sides are contending with their own and each other’s emotional reaction to feeling wronged or that their concerns are being disregarded, whether it’s the party making the complaint or answering it;  and receiving a demand that doesn’t seem responsive to one’s own sense of injustice naturally results in frustration and fear that resolution really can be achieved.

In my experience, it’s uIgnore the Factssually necessary for emotions (tempered) to be expressed before reasoning can prevail.  It’s  putting this natural sequence in front of parties that I find helps them better manage these beginning challenges and progress in negotiations.

Along with experience, my neutrality as a mediator is also very useful in providing this perspective.  The combination leads to greater receptivity towards understanding emotionally charged exchanges and their place in the negotiation process, as well as the fact that emotions don’t necessarily signal the end of the resolution process.  They can, in fact, unlock it.

About Maria Hanna Joseph

Maria Hanna Joseph is Principal of Joseph Mediation. Her 25 years of experience in employment law, include 16+ of work and mediating for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination which through which she has gained valuable insight into the MCAD, its practices and decision making. This, as well as her experience in plaintiff and defense litigation, with private and public sector clients, international and local business concerns, and in issues from harassment and discrimination, to noncompetition agreements, business operation, transgender workplace matters, retaliation and many others, lend her valuable perspective for understanding and mediating an array of legal and personal issues. In terms of volume, Maria has served more than 2,000 cases. Maria's practice has been honed with study of mediation at Harvard Law School's Program of Instruction for Lawyers, negotiation at Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation, and in the disciplines of Transformative Mediation and Family/Domestic Mediation, which are significant assets in managing the personal nature of employment disputes, and conflict in general. Attorneys and parties know Maria as candid, pragmatic and persevering in her commitment to help them achieve meaningful settlements while keeping sight of their most important interests. The insight and creativity afforded by her experience and training are realized in the resolutions that manifest. These qualities, along with her demeanor and the trust she engenders, have earned Maria a reputation for being able to manage highly tense and fraught situations and individuals, and settle a wide variety of disputes and tough cases.
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