Anna Maravelas, President of Thera Rising and Psychologist Emeritus, resolved more than 300 workplace conflicts and authored, “Creating a Drama-Free Workplace” (Career Press). Maravelas trains professionals in her unique and powerful methodology and her work has been featured in numerous publications and podcasts including “Oprah Magazine,” “Leadership Insights,” “Forbes,” and “Harvard Management Update.” The “New York Times” named her, "The best source on workplace conflict and stress."
1. Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story?
I felt compelled to make the material available in book format when clients who attended seminars began reporting back that the material was changing their lives. They were learning how easy it is to make subtle, but often grave, mistakes when dealing with disagreement and differences. Ironically, when I started my career I was making the same errors!
The insights I gained by helping others also healed me. Now I know how to sidestep the drama, indignation, and contempt that used to grip me. Also, when I need to speak up, I learned how to do it in a way that strengthens, rather than threatens, the relationship. This skill gives me the ability to ask for what I want without taking a risk. Phew!
2. Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I could say I wrote in the book in six months or it took me 30 years. It’s a culmination of first-hand experience in resolving conflict, observing what worked in my own life, and delivering the material via seminars.
For instance I spent several weeks researching the physiology of anger and how it triggers a cascade of adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. This response is so powerful that biofeedback researchers actually call anger “flooding.” In today’s world, most threat is emotional, not physical, but our bodies still react as if we must wrestle a tiger to the ground.
Flooding is so stressful that we often attempt to regain our equilibrium by venting or lashing out. However, neither of those strategies are effective. I used to flood fairly frequently and I had to teach myself how to short-circuit the flooding response. Being able to choose how I react is such a relief!
3. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
My biggest distraction is a beautiful Minnesota day - otherwise the process of creating another medium for the material was pure joy!
4. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Because I am trained as a psychologist I was a bit stiff initially, but over time I learned how to relax and write in a more narrative prose.
5. Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
Because our scientific understanding of these topics is changing constantly most of my reading is research-based. One of my favorite authors, Barbara Fredrickson, wrote “Love 2.0,” in which she presents her findings about the cellular craving for connectedness. When we connect our brain waves and biochemicals synchronize! Connecting does not take a great deal of time but it does require certain conditions that are more tricky to create in the age of Zoom and social media. However, we can compensate for physical distance and still create the closeness that allows our nervous systems to let down and regenerate.
6. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
7. What does literary success look like to you?
My motivation and energy comes from people who say the material is changing their lives and helping them resolve what seemed like intractable conflict.
8. What inspired you to start writing?
Early in my career I began realizing how deeply individuals suffer when relationships sour, because we crave positive energy and productive relationships. I became somewhat obsessed about discovering why something we desire was slipping through our fingers.
Once I began seeing the little, unconscious errors individuals were making I felt driven to share the information via seminars and keynotes. The book is another way to send these ideas out into the world.
9. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Reading, reading, reading, hiking in beautiful Rice Creek Park, kayaking and swimming in Golden Lake, laughing with friends and wonderful neighbors!
10. Do you have a website or social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) where readers can learn more about your work?
When my son and I were in Greece we were enchanted with the word, Thera, which meals “to heal” and decided to name the business Thera Rising. Hence the website is www.TheraRising.com. My presence on Linked In and Facebook is almost nonexistent so the website is the place to start. We have associates across the US now, and in Finland, the UK, and South Africa. This material is universal and applicable to political, social, organizational and familial conflict. Enjoy!