by Sherri Goren Slovinsherri-goren-slovin

Sherri acts as Beyond Civility’s lead trainer in the communication workshops. She is a communication consultant and a mediator.

We have previously reviewed Status, Certainty, Autonomy, and Relatednes. Today’s minute is about Fairness.

The dictionary defines fair as “in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate.”   We are hardwired to constantly assess fairness.  The challenge, of course, is that each of us might judge what’s “fair” by different standards.  For example:

  • Equality — If a division is equal, it is fair.
  • Need — Those who need more should get more.
  • Generosity — Those who can supply more should give more.
  • Equity –The person who works the hardest and makes the greatest contribution should be rewarded based upon their relative contribution.

We see these different standards of fairness play out in impassioned discussions every day as one person might argue for reducing inequality by having government help those who have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own, and another sees it as inequitable for the government to penalize those who work hard by taxing them to support those they believe do not work hard. Each sees “fair” differently.

Studies have shown that people who perceive others as unfair don’t feel empathy for their pain and, in some instances, feel rewarded when “unfair others” are punished.

Staying mindful of how sincere standards of fairness differ from person to person can improve understanding and increase empathy, both sorely needed in these challenging times.

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