The Power of Appreciation

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.

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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