Social values influence social morals or customs, which provides a basis for civilisation. The value of fairness provides a consistent basis for us to judge, debate and agree decisions and a framework for people with different views to manage their lives. Political parties have even been known to campaign for a 'fairer society', as if to suggest that this will make for a better society. This 'fairness' will, however, be relative to the interests and the power already held by those involved.

The concept of 'fairness' is exploited by some negotiators through the use of tactics. Our democratic societies are designed to offer freedom and choice. This serves to remove the notion of being controlled, and, as long as we have choices, many perceive this as freedom and fairness. So choices are designed to signal fairness. However, if like governments, you are controlling the options or choices, then you have the power to influence the outcome.

When we are given a menu in a restaurant we feel that we are being given a choice and have control over the meal that we will eat. We would not have entered the restaurant had we not liked the choice on the menu. However, the choice is still ultimately limited to the selection that the chef has put before us. It is our choice to engage. In negotiation it is the agenda which is developed, providing the choice of altering the terms associated with the featured variables; the offer to move payment terms ...

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