Grievance V. Gratitude/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on October 14, 2018


Which political party was given a boost by the appointment of Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court? Was it the Republican Party, which got to see the appointment of someone who espouses their strong conservative views? Or was the Democratic Party energized by the need to stand up for their principles which may have been overlooked by the selection of a judge who is in the mold of a strict constructionist? One expert who discussed this issue concluded that the Democrats will get a bigger push in terms of voter involvement. Why? Because this process boils down to the question whether gratitude (i.e. Republicans) is as dynamic a force as is grievance (i.e. Democrats).

It strikes me that in human interactions, grievance often trumps gratitude. We can quickly forget the kind deeds performed by third parties, but Heaven forgive the individual whose behavior leads to another party’s grievance. This is simply a fact of the human condition.

In a mediation, a skilled mediator should make an effort to give equal time to gratitude. Some questions driving home this point, might include:
1. What was the relationship like before the controversies arose?
2. Why did you choose to make this person your partner, spouse, etc.?
3. Name 3 qualities that you (still) like about the other party.

It is essential to the problem-solving model that the whole picture is viewed. Grievance are easy to focus on. Why not also turn the light on to those events that might result into feelings of gratitude? Anyone can, and will, tell you what is “wrong”. Have them, for the sake of intellectual honesty, also address what has been “right”. It will make the path to Win-Win that much easier.