When we are involved in a problem-solving process, our sense of satisfaction (fairness) is affected by whether we are able to participate fully, whether we are treated with dignity, whether our contributions are given respect. Satisfaction requires that we mattered.

Ask yourself these questions to judge whether the process was fair.

• In terms of the pace of the discussion and the rules about participation, did you feel welcome, included and comfortable?
• Were you satisfied with the format and the tempo of the discussions?
• Were you treated as a responsible, attentive and thoughtful person—not as someone who is wounded, unqualified or discouraged?
• Did you understand the goals and what would happen?
• Were you able to ask questions and get answers?
• Were you an active and full participant in all elements of the decision-making?
• Did you have the information you needed in order to participate fully and effectively? If not, were you able to obtain that information? Did you feel reassured as a result of receiving accurate and complete information?
• When you presented your ideas or questions, were you listened to?
• Did you sense that your questions deserved answers, that your concerns were genuine and that your ideas were worth considering?
• As a result of participating in this process, did you experience a relative decrease in stress and anxiety?
• Were you listened to by the professionals (not looked down on or treated like a victim). Did you sense that you counted?
• Overall, did you feel calm, composed, confident and hopeful?
• Did participation in the process reinforce your sense of self-worth—that your ideas, questions and concerns really mattered?

Hopefully you have a better idea of what it means when we say, “I just want what’s fair?”

Fairness includes the outcome—the solutions. But fairness also involves being in a process where the rules are clear and are evenly applied by an impartial person. And, fairness involves being able to participate fully and to be treated respectfully.

When you have all three, then you can truly feel it was “fair.”

Photo by hisu lee, www.unspash.com