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  • Writer's pictureYoram Solomon, PhD

Nurses care about a different kind of fairness.

I was stumped... And that doesn't happen to me often. On Friday, I facilitated one of my full-day TRUST workshops, this time to the nurse leadership of a major healthcare provider. When discussing the six components of trustworthiness, I used the same exercise that I did for the past five or six months. I used the Ultimate Negotiation Game. All 150 participants teamed in pairs. I offered one member of each pair $10. That person (the "giver") had to decide how much of it to offer to their partner. They could offer $1, they could offer $10, or anything in between. It was their choice. The other member of the team (the "recipient") had to decide, based on that single offer, whether to accept or reject the offer. If he or she accepted the offer, they would both get what they agreed to. If he or she rejected it, neither one of them gets anything. 

Historically (I documented it in The Book of Trust), more than 70% offered $1. That's the best economic offer. For the recipient, $1 is better than zero, so they should accept it. For the giver, if the recipient is likely to accept $1, offering $1 is therefore the most economic decision. When I conducted this in a large scale survey, 72% of recipients made the economic decision (to accept $1 or more). 13% rejected the offer, because it was not fair TO THEM. 10% rejected any offer other than $5, because they didn't want any kind of unfairness, and 5% rejected only the full $10 offer, because it wasn't fair TO THE OTHER PERSON

Except for nurses, that is...

We started the gave. I offered $10. In each pair, the "giver" made the one-time offer. The recipient then made the decision whether to accept or reject the offer. Then I asked, "how many of you have rejected the offer?" About 8 hands went up. Pretty typical. I asked the first person with his hand up, "what was the offer?" 

"Ten dollars," he said.

OK, I expect 15% to reject the $10 offer. That was probably the only one to reject the $10 offer. 

I pointed to the second person with her hand up, "What was the offer you got?"

"Ten dollars."

Wait, what??? I had two of those in that group?

I asked the third one, and the fourth, and so on. They ALL rejected a $10 offer!

What was going on there??? 

So, I asked a second question, "who offered $1?"

I expected to see 70%+ of them. At least more than half. But not a single hand went up. No nurse leader offered $1. All those who rejected the offer were offered $10. 

Nurses care much less about themselves than about you. To them, lack of fairness means that you get less than them. Remember that and thank a nurse the next time you see one.

Trust me.

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