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Pride: Something To Think About

by Phyllis Pollack

From the Blog of Phyllis G. Pollack.

Phyllis  Pollack

       According to psychologist Albert Mehrabian, more than fifty (50) percent of the total meaning of a spoken message comes through facial expressions and other non-verbal communication. One such non-verbal cue is pride.

      In a June 25, 2007 article in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Proud of yourself? Everyone can tell,” Janet Cromley, notes that according to recent research, “. . . pride appears to be a universal, human emotion, and it comes in two flavors: positive and arrogant.” (Id.)

      According to researchers Jessica Tracy an assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, and Richard Robins, a UC Davis psychology professor:

       “. . . pride is a cross-cultural phenomenon. . .  and that humans recognize two distinct types of pride: justifiable pride and arrogant, or conceited pride.”

       “. . . people who feel justifiable are likely to be more extroverted and conscientious, whereas those who feel conceited pride tend to be narcissistic and attribute their success to their innate abilities rather than their personal efforts.”


      How does pride relate to a mediation? It can trigger a reality check. If a party displays “pride” during a mediation, take a moment to determine if it is “positive” or “authentic” pride  related solely to the accomplishment at issue or “negative” pride caused solely by arrogance or conceit. Once you determine the source of the “pride”, you can formulate the appropriate response to this non-verbal communication which may or may not include a dose of reality (depending upon the reason for the “pride”).

      In conclusion, while non-verbal communication is always important, it is particularly so in mediation. Pay attention to these cues, and if “pride” is the cue, determine its source in order to figure out your next move.

      . . .  Just something to think about.


Phyllis Pollack with PGP Mediation uses a facilitative, interest-based approach. Her preferred mediation style is facilitative in the belief that the best and most durable resolutions are those achieved by the parties themselves. The parties generally know the business issues and priorities, personalities and obstacles to a successful resolution as well as their own needs better than any mediator or arbitrator. She does not impose her views or make decisions for the parties. Rather, Phyllis assists the parties in creating options that meet the needs and desires of both sides.  When appropriate, visual aids are used in preparing discussions and illustrating possible solutions. On the other hand, she is not averse to being proactive and offering a generous dose of reality, particularly when the process may have stalled due to unrealistic expectations of attorney or client, a failure to focus on needs rather than demands, or when one or more parties need to be reminded of the potential consequences of their failure to reach an agreement.

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