In my years as a mediator, it has struck me that the smaller the dispute, the harder it is to settle. And, I have always wondered why. Well, my friend and colleague, Maria Simpson, Ph.D., in her most recent Two Minute Training, explained the “why” quite succinctly: it is all about “justice” and “fairness”. She was mediating a “straightforward” collection case in which one party was suing two others for payment for work performed. The defendant though questioned the quality of the work and refused to pay.
While everyone at the mediation agreed the case should settle as it was such a “small” case, making it too expensive to take to trial, Defendant, at the same time, refused to pay.
Why? Principle! Because, defendant wanted justice and fairness; why should he pay for a penny for work that was not performed? “It isn’t fair”. As Dr. Simpson notes:
The point here is that very often those of us who aren’t really in the middle of the fight have no idea what drives people to take the stands they take, to offer $500 but not $550 or even $525. We don’t understand how important the principle is, or maybe even what the principle is. We simply see the recalcitrance as stubbornness but don’t understand what it really means. (Emphasis original).
It is all about “fairness”. But there are different types of “fairness”. A recent blog on the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School notes that researchers have identified three types of “fairness”:
Researchers have identified three fairness norms that people frequently invoke: equality (… a 50-50 split of profits; equity (a split in proportion to input…); and need ( a split that favors…
Do you like what you read?
If you would like to receive this blog automatically by e mail each week, please click on one of the following plugins/services:
and for the URL, type in my blog post address: http://www.pgpmediation.com/feed/ and then type in your e mail address and click "submit".
Copyright 2021 Phyllis G. Pollack and www.pgpmediation.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Phyllis G. Pollack and www.pgpmediation.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.