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We have an innate perception of fairness related to the concept of sharing; from a very early age we are instructed that we must share, and this carries over through our lives and into the boardroom. Relative equality is persuasive as “the right thing to do.” This tactic is often used in a visual context. We are less likely to agree to a deal we perceive as unequal if the inequality is visually displayed.


If work is divided in an organizational chart, managers feel it is fair if they have the same number of tasks as equally compensated individuals. They feel cheated if they are doing more than a peer. Regardless of the effort, the numbers are important.


First, we must do the math to determine the actual, objective equality of a deal, considering hours, effort, resources, expense, etc. From there, we can show where we bring value to the deal and represent that accordingly by providing the numbers: “Your part takes 10 man hours at $40 per hour; mine takes 200 man hours at $20 per hour,” for example.

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