Cooperative Understanding

An appreciative strengths-minded corporate culture values making what works work even better for everyone. It leads to cooperative understanding, where all employees work better together.

The traditional, problem-solving approach to work engenders a culture of fear where differences are perceived as workplace anomalies. This is and employees become afraid to identify their needs.

“Harmony at Work” through Cooperative Understanding promotes the cross-pollination of ideas, cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives, while empowering employees of all different abilities to achieve meaningful success. It brings about a strengths-minded corporate culture that appreciates and values all employees for what they contribute to the team, without scrutinizing how they perform their work. Achieving “Harmony at Work” through “Cooperative Understanding” is conducive to diversity, inclusion, productivity, and innovation by focusing on what works well and continuously building on those successes to make all aspects of the organization work even better for everyone.

This is exactly the kind of environment that, over 30 years of research proves, employees with disabilities thrive in, along with all other minority groups.

75% of all disabilities are invisible, or hidden. Managers, often, don’t realize that the reason why an employee is experiencing difficulty performing work may be because of a disability. Managers aren’t doctors. A supervisor’s first reaction to substandard work performance is usually oral admonishment. If it continues that can lead to a write up, then a suspension, and ultimately termination.

Employees with disabilities need to feel safe, and comfortable, if you want us to come forward and identify our disability status, along with any necessary request for reasonable accommodation. This reluctantly, and often begrudgingly happens in a deficit-based thinking, problem-solving corporate culture. Cultures keen on solving problems continuously hunt out weaknesses in the organization with the intent of eliminating them, for the greater good of the company.

Disability is viewed as a performance anomaly in this kind of environment. Anomalies must be eliminated, or fixed. The progression of penalties approach has minimal effect, if any, on encouraging employees with disabilities to self-identify, and request accommodations as soon as they have difficulty performing work. They don’t always realize that they need any accommodation until after attempting to work through the difficulties themselves. The accommodation process, itself, can resemble an FBI interrogation, just to prove that the person does in fact have a legally defined impairment due to a medical condition, and that the requested accommodation will, in fact, successfully enable the employee to perform their job satisfactorily.


Once accommodated, other employees may resent and begrudge that employee, without even realizing that they have a disability. All they see is special treatment. You cannot share any employee’s disability information with anyone else, so your workforce may begin to resent the manager for treating one employee more privileged than others. “Harmony at Work,” through Cooperative Understanding teaches organizations how to accommodate every employee’s needs, and empower everyone to perform at their best, in collaboration with the team.


“Harmony at work” through Cooperative Understanding developed out of the psychology of appreciative inquiry in response to the research that demonstrates how differences equal conflict, which is amplified by the standard diversity & inclusion approach. Rather than focusing on the inherent differences between persons with disabilities and those without, Cooperative Understanding focuses on the common goal, to accomplish work together, and the assets that each person brings to the team.

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