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Core Concerns – Why are They Important?

Disputing Blog by Karl Bayer, Victoria VanBuren, and Holly Hayes

“The power of the core concerns comes from the fact that they can be used as both a lens to understand the emotional experience of each party and as a lever to stimulate positive emotions in yourself and in others.” Source: Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate by Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro.

According to Fisher and Shapiro, when the five core concerns (appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status and role) aren’t met, here’s how people feel:

Appreciation: when people don’t feel they are appreciated, they feel devalued

Affiliation: when people don’t have feel an affiliation with others, they begin to act like adversaries

Autonomy: if people don’t feel a sense of autonomy in a relationship, their ability to make decisions becomes impinged

Status: when the core concern of status isn’t met, people feel inferior

Role: if someone’s role is questioned, the activities they engage in are no longer fulfilling

When core concerns aren’t met, people react negatively. They think more rigidly about issues and they start to act deceptively. They may feel anxious, sad and angry.

Healthcare is an area where being mindful of core concerns can lead to increased collaboration among members of the patient care team. If core concerns aren’t being met, work relationships are compromised, but more importantly an opportunity to “stimulate positive emotions” is missed.

What are some tools to help care givers stimulate the core concerns to enhance collaboration?

Appreciation: there are three key elements to express appreciation — understanding the other person’s point of view; finding merit in what they think, feel or do; and communicating an understanding of another person’s view through words and actions.

Affiliation: often we may forget to actively build affiliation with others. Meet colleagues in person, discuss things you mutually care about, keep in contact.

Autonomy: give autonomy to others by including them in the decision making process. Expand your own autonomy by making recommendations or suggesting that the group explore options before deciding.

Status: recognize areas where others have expertise and be proud of your own areas of achievement. Treating others respectfully goes a long way toward generating positive emotions.

Role: recognizing the importance of another person’s role promotes a collaborative relationship. In almost any role, there are aspects that are dull, frustrating and time consuming. Focus instead on the areas of your role and the role of others that have clear purpose and are personally meaningful.

Being mindful of the core concerns we share with others can generate positive emotions and stimulate rapport, openness and creativity.


Holly Hayes

Holly Hayes Bovio received a Masters in Health Administration (MHA) from Duke University and her undergraduate degree from Southern Methodist University. She holds a certificate in mediation from Texas State.  Holly brings a strong hospital operations background to healthcare mediations including a focus on clinical quality.  Holly managed her own consulting… MORE >

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