Positive Leadership: The Staff Series “Negotiating Mindfully”

July 22, 2016

By: , Gretchen Graton

Negotiating mindfully is not a term we hear very often. That is unless you’ve been in a class taught by Professor Shirli Kopelman, who is a leading researcher, expert, and educator in the field of negotiations. Professor Kopelman was one of the faculty who taught the “Positive Leadership” series for staff at the Ross School of Business.

When you come from the corporate world, the lens of the workplace might be slightly different then working in the academic world. Find out what Gretchen Graton learned when she attended these sessions.

Gretchen Graton
Human Resource Manager
Number of Years at Ross: 2

1. Before you attended the sessions, what did you think you were going to gain from them?

I knew the sessions would be enlightening because they were being taught by the top professors in the field. I also knew that they would reflect action-based learning, a hallmark of the Ross School of Business, and that I would be grateful for the experience. However, they exceeded my expectations!

2. How would you explain/describe the experience of attending these sessions to a close friend or family member?

I called my Mom immediately after Professor Robert Quinn’s presentation on having a higher purpose. He shared stories about his work with a group of individuals from the military. These people were described as having a tough exterior; however, they were crying at the end of his session. Reflecting on his discussion about purpose had a direct impact on me. He chose to share with us sensitive subjects from his personal life. I come from the corporate world and we would rarely, if ever, talk about leadership from a “purpose driven” perspective, never mind be so personal!

3. What did you take away and how do you see yourself applying what you learned into your everyday life?

In the first session taught by Professors Kim Cameron and Gretchen Spreitzer, they provided the research foundation for the kick-off session. Hearing it from their perspective was unique and helpful in preparing for the upcoming presentations.

In another session Professor Shirli Kopelman brought a fresh perspective on negotiating mindfully. Having taken a course during grad school on negotiation theory and practice, I enjoyed the session’s focus on emotions and relational mindfulness. This session helped me recognize that I often times can be judgmental of my own emotions in the moment. As a result, I see myself becoming more aware of the judgments I can make on myself.

The Capstone Session: We were given yellow cards (see samples below) which detail positive leadership micro moves. I look at them every morning as they provide a POS lens at the beginning of my day. I also spend time thinking about my higher purpose from both a personal and professional perspective. For example, what is my goal going into a meeting? Or having a crucial conversation? What could the mutual purpose be? I know time spent thinking about these questions ahead of time will help me live out my higher purpose.

4. What constitutes a positive work environment?

Collaboration is the hallmark of a positive work environment. Compared to my prior industry experience, I feel Ross has an environment where the workforce is engaged with a common understanding of the organization’s strategic goals. Everyone is working as one to achieve those goals. This environment values relationships and different cultures.


This was a truly a unique Ross experience for professional development that has not been available before. I am thankful for the opportunity to attend as many sessions as I did. I truly enjoyed the Capstone session, where we were asked to create a visual representation of what we learned from all the sessions we attended.

Yellow Cards

If you would like to discover how to be a more effective and positive leader, we highly recommend that you read the book How to Be a Positive Leader: Small Actions, Big Impact, edited by Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer.

Positive Leadership: The Staff Series is a group of interviews capturing staff reflections after participating in the Positive Leadership Workshops.