When I was a kid I often protested to my mom: “But that’s not fair”.
Although admittedly, at this young age “fair” to me pretty much meant whether I was getting my way or not.
Her response was often “Well, life’s not fair”.
She had a point.
Nevertheless, this notion of what was fair and unfair, just and unjust has been ever-present throughout my life.
I’ve always believed it’s important to try to be as objective and upright as possible.
I want to be the most fair-minded person I can be.
Yet despite it feeling like the right thing to do, it’s far from easy.
Our own biases, emotions, and impulses can quickly get in the way.
The reality is that it takes constant work to try to be a fair-minded person.
This article will explore the traits a fair-minded person strives to cultivate.
1) They’re self-aware and understand themselves
If we don’t know ourselves, we’ve got little opportunity for personal growth.
For starters, without this skill, it’s almost impossible to keep yourself in check.
Self-awareness is our ability to consider our thoughts, emotions, and actions and hold them up against our internal standards.
Getting to grips with how you tick is what helps you to free yourself of your assumptions and biases.
It’s what makes us aware of the effect we have on others, which is why it’s essential in staying fair-minded.
2) They are accountable for their words and actions
The more self-awareness we cultivate, the better we become at holding ourselves to account.
Fair-minded people are self-policing.
They insist that they adhere to the standards they expect and try to uphold for others.
That means they take responsibility for themselves. They don’t try to pass the buck or deflect blame.
They believe self-responsibility is crucial for staying even-handed.
It’s also why they make a conscious effort to ensure their words and actions match up.
3) They’re honest and true to their word
Truth and honesty are part of the value system of fair-minded people.
After all, how can we be fair when we lie, cheat, and deceive?
A fair-minded person knows their words and actions must match up.
So they say what they mean and mean what they say.
That doesn’t mean dropping tact.
Sometimes people use the truth as an excuse for bluntly delivered unkindness. It’s not quite the same thing.
Fair-minded people strive to make sure their words and actions are a reasonable representation of themselves, whilst remaining considerate and reasonable to others.
4) They are caring and give a damn about others
At the very heart of being fair-minded is concern and consideration for your fellow man.
Otherwise, why bother?
Why not always do whatever is in your own selfish best interest?
After all, if you can get away with being self-serving, why wouldn’t you?
The answer is that you care.
Fair-minded people can display what looks like almost robotic restraint at putting their emotions aside on occasion.
But this certainly doesn’t mean they’re unfeeling or insensitive.
The truth is their quest for fairness is driven by kindness, compassion, and empathy.
But as we’ll see next, that means being able to keep irrational emotions in line.
5) They’re rational and try not to be swayed by their emotions
Emotions give life richness.
For good or bad, they have us flying high or down in the dumps. But emotions are powerful and can quickly cloud judgment.
They can steal our objectivity.
Fair-minded people don’t deny their feelings, but they know it’s important to look past them.
Because the truth is that sometimes “following your heart” means following fiction, not fact.
Our cognitive biases mean we have a habit of seeing things as we wish, and not as they truly are.
Fair-minded people have to move beyond their personal experiences and preferences to stay open to the truth.
6) They are open-minded and not quick to make judgments
Remaining objective is no mean feat.
It demands that we have the ability to keep ourselves open. And sometimes we won’t like what we hear or see.
The ego has a habit of quickly responding to make us feel right and justified.
To stop it from clouding our judgment we have to consciously choose to keep an open mind.
We have to decide to reserve judgment until we have all the facts.
We need to be prepared to hear others out and see things from a different perspective if we want to be fair-minded.
Often that means taking very little at face value…
7) They’re questioning so they can get to the heart of the matter
Here’s the thing:
Fair-minded people don’t just accept everything they are told.
I’ve seen it suggested that fair-minded people are naturally obedient and rule-abiding. But I don’t necessarily agree.
Sure, fair-minded people will go along with the rules, as long as they think it’s the right thing to do.
But they’re not sheep. They are inquisitive.
You can be fair-minded and still be a rule-breaker.
Because let’s not be naive here, we all know that the rules of life are not always fair.
Injustice and abuse of power exist. Standing up to that can mean breaking the rules.
Being fair-minded isn’t about following the letter of the law no matter what. It’s ultimately about following what’s right.
That’s why fair-minded people are questioning.
They don’t simply accept whatever they hear. Neither do they agree with the rules blindly, simply because they are “the rules”.
To do this, demands the ability to do some deep thinking.
8) They’re reflective and consider things on a deeper level
What’s right and wrong, fair and just isn’t always so black and white.
In real life, there is a grey area.
Fair-minded people are often analytical thinkers.
They want to consider things from all sides before coming up with conclusions and potential solutions.
That means in certain circumstances being able to dive deeply into an issue.
Rather than simply jumping to conclusions, they are able to reflect.
They look at all angles and take time to ponder.
9) They are impartial and objective
Fair-minded people aim to see both sides, even when they are firmly standing on one of those sides.
Do you find you quite easily play devil’s advocate in a situation, even when it impacts you personally?
That’s a sign of a fair-minded person’s brain at work.
Putting your own desires, preferences, and ideas on something aside is so challenging. Let’s face it, it’s almost impossible in some circumstances.
But fair-minded people consciously strive to remain as objective as possible at all times.
They usually prefer not to take sides.
Largely because they know it’s never as simple as someone being right and the other person is wrong.
They believe compromise and understanding are usually the best way forward.
They also avoid favoritism. They think it’s right that everyone gets an equal shot.
10) They are deeply moralistic and care about right and wrong
Our sense of morality is in part innate.
Research has found that we naturally respond morally to various dilemmas. But at the same time, it’s also socially nurtured.
In short: our biology and our environment factor into our morals.
But for fair-minded people values, beliefs and morals really matter.
So they spend time considering their own personal values as well as the ethics of society.
This is the framework that they use to decide right from wrong. It’s their moral compass that steers them through life.
11) They forgive for the sake of the common good
Part of being fair means not holding yourself or others up to impossible standards.
Because we can strive for justice, decency, and fairness in life, but the fact remains:
Nobody is perfect.
Having a rigid approach to high standards fails to take this into account.
We have to be practical in our approach to fairness. And that means being forgiving.
We need to accept that to err is human.
Being a reasonable person demands that we put pride aside and take an understanding approach to one another’s flaws.
Because an eye for an eye approach isn’t necessarily “fair”. Instead, as Gandhi so eloquently put it, it ‘makes the whole world blind’.
12) They always play fair and never fight dirty
When I was young I would play the board game Monopoly with my family. And I’ll admit, I was super annoying to play alongside.
Because whenever someone landed on somebodies property, I would let them know.
If they hadn’t realized — before the dice were rolled again—I’d draw it to their attention (much to the irritation of whoever had to pay out).
I just believed that if you were going to play, you should play properly.
To me, that was only “fair”.
Fair-minded people won’t use underhand tactics to win.
Instead, they believe in merit and being deserving.
Final thoughts: Why fairness matters
Our societies are built upon cooperation. We live together in communities. Being fair-minded matters to how well we all get along.
It matters if we want to create a world that promotes harmony and peace.
If we believe that every person on this Earth has intrinsic value, then we have to treat them as such.
And that means treating everyone as fairly as possible, regardless of their status or station in life.
Being fair-minded is about creating equality and affording the same rights and opportunities to all.