Negotiations and Fairness/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on December 24, 2015


The Harvard Program on Negotiation (PON) recently made this simple but elegant statement about the role of fairness in the negotiation setting: “In any negotiation, you should strive to bring fairness considerations to the surface.” It is likely axiomatic that a mediation session (or one of negotiation) without an emphasis on fairness is destined to failure. I often tell the participants in mediation that the mediation sessions will have few rules. However one of the rules that is essential to success is that all proposals and positions must be based on a sense of equity and fairness. To do otherwise is to short-circuit discussion due to a lack of credible and sincere dialogue. We all know what fairness looks like when it is aimed at us. We need to treat the other party with similar respect and deference. It is likely true that where there is no fairness, there is no likelihood of attaining Win-Win. A proper negotiation deserves no less that the foundation of fairness.