Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Can Fairness be Accomplished?

The best interaction in business is one that both opposing parties consider as a “win-win”, where both parties gave a little, and agreed towards more in the middle of the conflict vs. being compromised from their prospective positions. A “fairness” level can be accomplished if both parties are truly sincere in creating a mutually beneficial business environment. That’s the key.

In the text (Messick and Sentis, 1979) point out as a general rule fairness is a matter of perception. Such perception is usually self-serving by the parties involved. Therefore when two opposing parties seek to achieve a mutually amicable solution they have to determine from with the fairness gap, which is the gap between what they need vs. what the other party needs; two diametrically opposing positions. The primary focus by both parties should be on identifying the gap, specifying the dynamics of the gap, creating a critical path towards the middle, and doing a self-assessment of whether if the middle is achieved could you feel the outcome was fair?

In conflict situations opposing party’s often present solutions that they feel is fair to the other party. The problem is always the presenting party always discounts or minimizes the other parties’ position. This fact is human nature, but an adjustment of ones perception takes work. It takes a person to consider the other persons position and internalize the dynamics as they would see it played out, in order to have a real affinity for the opposition’s position. This takes skill.

Depending upon the magnitude of the deal, or conflict to under estimate the other parties position can be detrimental to achieving any real solution. The key to constructive reasoning of another parties position is to control what (Messick and Sentis, 1979) terms as the phenomenon of egocentric bias. You have to take your own ego out of the equation. Not necessarily compromising your principals, but, always defaulting to a more humble “I’m just trying to seek common ground” approach. Once that skill is learned then one can put themselves into a position to compromise. Compromising takes deductive reasoning, and good instinct that the fight for a happy medium is more valuable than a fight for your unwavering principles. If both parties exercise compromising principles then fairness can be accomplished.