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Your Weekly Walkaway - Fairness? In Negotiation It Just Doesn’t Exist!
The Weekly Walkway highlights negotiation in its ‘good’, ‘bad’ and sometimes ‘downright ugly’ forms. Newsletter Issue No. 13 (9th December 2022)
What to expect?
Quotes of the Week - “You could say to the universe this is not fair. And the universe would say: Oh, isn’t it? Sorry.”
Tactic of the Week - Fairness
Thought of the Week - Fairness In Negotiation Just Doesn’t Exist!
Their Week - Union accused of 'playing fast and loose with people's Christmas’s
Remember: You are a negotiator!
You are always managing some form of conflict, a difference of opinion or interest.
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QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“You could say to the universe this is not fair. And the universe would say: Oh, isn’t it? Sorry.”
“Everyone cares about fairness, but there are two major kinds. On the left, fairness often implies equality, but on the right it means proportionality —people should be rewarded in proportion to what they contribute, even if that guarantees unequal outcomes.”
“The world isn't fair, Calvin."
"I know Dad, but why isn't it ever unfair in my favour?”
TACTIC OF THE WEEK
Fairness suggests that you and your counterpart are following an agreed set of rules and are free from any form of self-interest or favouritism. Really? Can you, hand on heart, tell me that you are free from any self or organisational interest? No, I didn’t think so. Nor are they. Who’s rules are you following? Theirs, and you will be controlled by their self interest. Yours, and you will control them.
Your counterpart will use fairness against you. Why? To manipulate you! It is one of the most powerful emotional triggers. No one likes to feel that they’ve been unfair. It’s hard wired into us from our earliest childhood experiences.
“That is unfair” “You are behaving unfairly” “Your proposal goes against all sense of what is fair and right” “Why would you do that? We’ve known each other for so long”.
What is a fair deal? Is it meeting half- way or splitting the difference? No!. Never split the difference. What is fair to them I can assure you will not be fair to you. There will always be a proportional distribution based on skill and power.
We do not condemn nor condone the use of fairness, it is very powerful, but never be used by it. Recognise the tactic for what it is, just another tactic in the game of negotiation. There is a huge difference between the value of fairness in your personal life and the abuse of fairness in negotiations.
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Fairness In Negotiation Just Doesn’t Exist!
Oxford Dictionary definition - “treating someone in a way that is right or reasonable, or treating a group of people equally and not allowing personal opinions to influence your judgment.”
Fair - free from self-interest, deception, injustice, or favouritism
I don’t believe in fairness. What I think is fair will most certainly not be what my counterpart thinks is fair. And even if they did agree with my sense of fairness, they wouldn’t say it because it just wouldn’t be in their interest. (In #negotiation)
So what?! OK, let’s take the current UK rail strikes as an example.
My sense of fairness requires a rail system that is 1. Modern 2. Customer-focused 3. Not going to hold me to ransom over the Christmas holidays.
The rail union, The RMT’s sense of fairness suggests 1. Secure jobs 2. Higher pay 3. Better working conditions.
Theirs and mine are perfectly ‘fair’. But on initial inspection, they are counter to each other.
Take my No1. A modern system. I’m talking ‘bullet train’ modern. Modernisation ‘usually’ means fewer people, tech investment and Upskilling. I appreciate all three would negatively impact their No1; to secure jobs. And yes, it would also negatively impact The Union’s membership numbers and, therefore, its business model.
Drill down, though, and interestingly those who would remain would benefit from higher pay and better conditions due to the availability of tech investment and up-skilling. Which would improve my No2 and help towards preventing my No3.
Oh, and another thing, modernisation requires design and build. Both increase jobs and investment, which have a positive impact on the economy and, therefore, on the people ‘The Union’ is fairly supporting. Although, yes, those people may now be differently skilled and so differently employed, and yes, they may now be paying members of a different union.
Fairness just becomes a matter of negotiating the issues (modernisation), not the positions (higher pay). This would require longer and much more complex negotiations, which would, in turn, require years of planning, cooperation and trust. Working together to solve each other's issues.
But, this does not answer the hidden underlying issue that still remains. It seems it’s not in the Union’s interest to modernise because they risk losing paying members. If this is the case, then negotiations will not align and will focus on positions (pay), not the issues. This requires tough, hard and cold techniques in the struggle over the win/lose scenario of who wins ‘fair’.
In mathematics, at last count, there are 21 mathematical definitions of fairness. So, if there is no one definition of fairness, then there are also no clear agreements on which definition to apply…
Rail strikes: RMT accused of 'playing fast and loose with people's Christmas plans' as fresh dates announced
The dispute escalates as the RMT union urges its members at Network Rail to reject the latest offer but gives them the opportunity to indicate they are happy with the proposals.
Mark Harper, the transport secretary, said: "It's incredibly disappointing that, despite a new and improved deal offering job security and a fair pay rise, the RMT is not only continuing with upcoming industrial action but has called more strikes over Christmas.”
"It's especially disappointing given the TSSA union has described this new and improved deal as the 'best we can achieve through negotiation' and called off strikes.
"The government has played its part by facilitating a fair and decent offer but, by instructing its members to reject it, the RMT has failed to play its part and our rail network now faces more harmful disruption rather than helpful discussion."
The government steps in and uses ‘fairness’ against the rail Union. Suggesting the union and its members will ruin Christmas. This is a play for the hearts and minds of the rail users to voice their anger against the Union and put pressure on the members to agree to the ‘fair offer’.
The social smell (tactic) is also being used by the government - “disappointing given the TSSA union has described this new and improved deal as the 'best we can achieve through negotiation' and called off strikes.” They’ve agreed, why wouldn’t you? You’re being un-fair and unreasonable. You’re ruining Christmas.
More rail strike dates announced after RMT rebuffs pay offer
Union recommends members reject the latest offer and adds 24-27 December strike but drops the overtime ban.
More rail strike dates announced after RMT rebuffs pay offer (The Guardian)
The RDG said it had offered an outline deal of 4% for 2022 and another 4% for 2023, dependent on workplace reform, as well as a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until April 2024. However, the stipulations included one of the most bitterly disputed points of contention in industrial battles over the last decade – driver-only operation.
The RDG said it was “a fair and affordable offer in challenging times”, with revenue from fares still at about 20% below pre-pandemic levels and the industry requiring higher levels of subsidy from government to continue running
The RDG, The employer, is using fairness against its employees, saying that they had offered “a fair and affordable offer in challenging times”. We all know the cost of living crisis, and we all know that there are fewer people using trains now more people are working from home, so this plays to the employees and the users of the trains and changes the perception if what ‘a fair offer’ is.
Interestingly the Union is not using fairness and knows the power they have striking over this period. But, if public opinion rises up against them, they will surely use fairness again to reclaim the win/lose high ground and battle over the perception of who is fair and who is not.
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