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Cognitive Distortions – Part 3

From the Mediation Matters Blog of Steve Mehta.

As a continued discussion of cognitive discussions, I thought I would bring to light the fallacy of fairness.

Fallacy of Fairness.

Most people are hardwired to understand a concept of fairness. Even as children, we comment that something is or isn’t fair. There is an obvious feeling of resentment when we percieve something as unfair. However, some people take that feeling of resentment to an extreme. They feel resentful because they think they know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with them. These people get bogged down in the details of what is fair and what is not fair. In an employment case, they may get bogged down in the unfairness of being an at will employee. Or they may feel that it is unfair that they were sued. As our parents tell us, “Life isn’t always fair.” People who go through life applying a measuring ruler against every situation judging its “fairness” will often feel badly and negative because of it.

The Solution: First, a great degree of empathy is required to address this issue and before you discuss the issue, you need to make sure that they know that you have heard them. Second, explain the difference between what should happen and what does happen. Give lots of examples of unfair things happening to good people in the legal context. In explaining how this unfairness applies to other people, you can create a sense of fairness in that it is not just happening to this one person, but to everyone.


Steve Mehta

Steven G. Mehta is an attorney and mediator providing unique mediation services in a variety of types of civil litigation. His ability to understand the human process and complex emotional issues involved in legal negotiations enables him to effectively assist the parties in obtaining the best possible results during mediation.… MORE >

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