Coming together at mediation brings people face to face with their own and projected feelings, and naturally they expect the worst, including the type of sentiments held against them. They’re not always right, though, and mediation is an opportunity to dispel those notions in a way that opens the door to resolution.
Notably, I often see a perceived lack of appreciation tied to complaints – on both sides.
Somewhat affirming of this observation (though not negating of the incompatibility of the present relationship) is the positive impact I also often see in response to one party’s acknowledgement of the other’s assets, contributions, etc.
Admittedly, this share or its reception is not always possible because of the defenses that simultaneously come up with the triggering action.
When an employee, for example however, believably hears the last thing he’s expecting – that the employer doesn’t hold any personal animosity against him and is actually expressing appreciation for variously specific reasons – it can be cathartic. Again, it doesn’t necessarily negate overriding incompatibilities, but it can lessen the intensity of the conflict and correlative defenses, and increase the likelihood of resolution.
In two recent cases, I witnessed former employees’ defensive postures visibly relax when they felt their worth recognized. True to these sentiments, the employers pursued and arrived at settlement terms built upon the positive attributes of each employee and were designed to transition them progressively.
In another, I saw a present employee’s defensive posture flip to a collaborative, proactive one. Knowing he was appreciated encouraged the employee to offer a creative plan of action that would not only benefit both he and the employer, but those they serve as well.
If genuine, well communicated and able to be received, the impact of expressing appreciation can be pivotal. Feeling better understood can go a long way, too.