“That’s Not Fair”


As a leader you are going to hear the phrase “that’s not fair” more than you wish. Whether it be from team members, opponents, or even family, you must learn to effectively counter this cheap ploy. With a little thought you will soon let it slide off of you like rain slides off a smooth stone. These words encompass the most childish of words, and whoever utters them attempts appealĀ  to your sense of “fairness”. “I bought xxx for yyy and now I want to sell it for zzz but the market is down, that’s not fair!” “The woman I was talking to left with another man, that’s not fair!” The examples are endless and I am sure you have heard many today alone.

People who claim TNF believe that all of the 7.1 billion people on this planet adhere to their own personal (and highly subjective) interpretation of fairness. They are also unable or unwilling to see things from another persons perspective, they will not look at outside circumstances, in short, they refuse to look at the REALITY OF THE SITUATION. Instead of lecturing or verbally flaying the abuser try tips first:

  • If you can move past it, quickly move onto whatever is next on the agenda. Treat it as if a small child just uttered TNF. Not disdainfully but respectfully.
  • If not possible take a deep breath and turn to face the group.
  • Briefly lay out the reality of the situation, logically and with no hint of emotion. If the issue itself is highly controversial/emotional do not fan the flames, tempers will be running high as is. If it’s something small / inconsequential you can always take a page out of the PUA playbook and playfully agree and amplify.
  • If they still persist, make a pro’s and con’s list. You will win if their argument relies strictly on fairness and nothing else.

The end. Do not fall into the frame of the attacker, you are the leader for the reason, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions. You don’t always have to have people agree with you.

Before these hard decisions must be made you have to build a good rapport with the group. The old maxim “I would never ask you to do anything I would not do myself” is a guiding light. If they see that you will take the blame for your personal mistakes and sometimes the mistake of the group itself, they will follow you to the end. Leading from the front, getting your hands dirty, while not always necessary or prudent, shows your teammates you don’t just bark orders, you can actually lead when you have to. Think Theodore Roosevelt and his all volunteer unit of Rough Riders. Thousands of men (much more than he needed) from far and wide signed up to follow TR because they knew he would not be sitting comfortably in an officers lounge miles away, but he would be leading the charge, pistol in hand to take both Kettle and San Juan Hill.

TR and the Rough Riders atop Kettle Hill, July 3rd 1898
TR and the Rough Riders atop Kettle Hill, July 3rd 1898


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