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“That’s Not Fair”

One of the common statements that occurs in conflict is, “that’s not fair”. It may be a response to an action that is seen – according to our sensibilities, values, and beliefs – as wrong. It may be an emotional reaction to a decision or position someone is taking on a matter with which we disagree. It may be due to a rule, policy, or procedure that we experience as oppressive, threatening, or undermining. It may be a perception that another person is being arbitrary, unthinking, obstinate, etc. It may be that someone gets or achieves something we want or believe we are entitled to have.

Fairness, like other values we develop, is a subjective experience derived from our personal conditioning, culture, and other contextual influences. As with many other values, there does not appear to be a spectrum or degrees of fairness. Rather, it seems things are perceived as either fair or unfair. I find both the interpretation of what constitutes fairness and this polarization is what often leads to conflict.

This week’s blog poses questions about the notion of fairness that may help readers deconstruct the nature of this concept and how it has an impact when it emerges for you in a conflict.

  • Generally, what is your definition of fairness?
  • How do you define unfairness – that may give even more meaning to your definition of fairness?
  • Consider a situation in which someone did or said something you consider unfair, what was that and what made it unfair for you?
  • In what ways was what she or he said or did contrary to your expectation of her or him?
  • From what you can tell or know, what was fair regarding the action or words from her or his perspective?
  • On a scale of 1-5, 5 being extremely unfair and 1 being very fair, what rating do you give the level of fairness of the other person’s action in that incident?
  • How may you have contributed to the conflict?
  • What did you say or do that she or he may have considered unfair?
  • How may she or he have changed what was said or done for you to have experienced it as being fairer?
  • What may you have done differently?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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