I woke up this morning with a heavy subject on my mind. It may be because my partner and I are moving and the stress and newly found summer heat are creating the perfect storm for us to under-communicate. But it is here, fairness.
Exactly when you feel like you don’t have the time, is when you need to take time to acknowledge differences and senses of fairness.
Now to be clear, this is the opposite of easy. In fact many interpersonal norms seem to prohibit it. Unless it is actually a normed activity itself, it will appear unnatural and a waste of time. Like with my partner, the years of expectations and patterns of behavior have us in a system that probably prevent action against the tension. We will probably come out on the other side of moving without having had a serious airing of the stresses involved. Then will be the time, I hope .
Sometimes the storm is too short or already operating with dysfunctional-efficiency that you are better off intervening after the fact.
Last night on NPR, via American Public Media’s “The Story,” I was listening to Emmanuel Dolo tell his story about reconciliation in Liberia. Dolo, armed with peace, forgiveness, and a lived story within the Liberian civil war, he works to bring disparate groups and tribal leaders together towards his goal of reconciliation. The strategy is simple. He lets both sides speak for as long as they want to before any further discussion.
Often time those on either side of a concern or problem have had similar experiences and feelings.
As humans, we affront each other in predictable ways and share many commonalities in our life experience. What isn’t fair is often the missing opportunity to air our experiences without question. Additionally, this takes time. Truncated processing sessions lead to feelings of superiority because of all of the perceived limits that everyone tosses around. Someone gets cut short, talks louder or longer, misses part of their story, or is misunderstood.
Can we work towards reconciliation? Is it possible to establish fairness in a way also acknowledges differences? First, bring acknowledgment to what the word fair means (definition). It is a contextual word that implies a state of mind or situation, not specific rules for outcomes. What is brought to fairness is culturally established rules through which assume success in accomplishing a fair outcome. But really it is much simpler than that. It is a process that is established that is
- without bias;
- brings honesty;
- establishes everyones’ inherent civility;
- and acknowledges injustices.
You will struggle to accomplish anything without these principles. Make sure the rules and structures you are using incorporate these principles.
Stop weighing the scale to balance outcomes but open the flood gates on a regular basis. Collect and document information. Then begin discussion on next steps. This means living an open door policy that is not in appearance but in active practice. Practice will make clear the imperfections in your organization or group. Creative and active invitations to participate will bring the necessary solutions, reconciliation, exposure of differences.
Live fairness, don’t judge fairness.
Suggestions on creating this environment? I know one possibility is setting monthly meetings that lets everyone speak for as long as they like, giving time for processing afterward. This will be dreaded at first but as examples of freedom and fairness are set, it will be heavily looked forward to. More information, directly from the source. Share your own…