In a time of uncertainty, it can be difficult to find fair solutions for diverse groups of stakeholders. Is it fair to prohibit young people from participating in social activities when it appears the effects of COVID-19 aren’t as severe for young and healthy people? On the other hand, is it fair to individuals in a demographic with more risk if young people increase their exposure to the virus and then spread it to others?
When clear solutions aren’t available, it’s up to individuals to negotiate win-win solutions that account for the needs and wants of all parties to reach a fair solution for the greater good. To do this, one must listen to understand what the other party wants by asking questions and restating what the other person says to ensure clarity. You must also clearly describe what it is you desire and why. Only when all parties understand that this is what you want and this is what I want, can you work together to find a “we could” win-win solution.
Fairness for Educators: Few things will be normal this school year. Educators will have to negotiate win-win solutions on everything from how students will pass each other in the hallways to how students will eat lunch. In every negotiation, commit to understanding the other person’s perspective, clearly state your idea, and stay focused on your common ground – what you both want to achieve.
Fairness for Students: Students can use the Win-Win Negotiation tool to help them find compromise with teachers or parents. For example, students using win-win negotiation when asking permission to attend a social event would clearly articulate what they want (to attend event) and why they want it (to see their friends), and would listen to and understand what their parent wants (child to be safe and healthy). Then, both parties can focus on solutions that can meet this objective (you can attend the event if there are less than 10 people and you wear a mask).
Fairness for Families: Families can use the Win-Win Negotiation tool to help find compromise over work time, if students are working from home. Or, the tool could be used to reach agreement on what social activities students can engage in. Families can even use it when finding solutions with schools on everything from behavior issues to virtual versus in-person attendance.