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Liar, liar!

Florence Kennedy Rolland, Lead Tutor

Faculty Blog

According to new research by University of California–Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania, women fare less well in negotiations because they are more likely to be lied to.  According to the researchers, both men and women are more likely to blatantly lie to a woman during a negotiation, because the assumption is that she will be less informed than a man.

Aside from the obvious gender biases, this leads to the question - is it ok to lie in a negotiation?

It is a fine line during negotiation between telling the truth and giving away your position.

It is important to be honest - to a point. I believe that direct lies and dishonesty don’t have a place in effective negotiations, but you can’t simply reveal everything to the other party.

Chess knight 0971.jpg

Chess knight 0971.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many negotiators fear telling the truth.  They think it weakens their position and risks them being pushed too far in the negotiation.  But how can you possibly aim to build a relationship with the other party by not telling the truth?  True, there are some instances where the negotiation is a one off, dead end deal and there is no need for future relations, but in most circumstances you need to work with the other party not only during the contract, but in the next one, and the one after that too.  Perhaps your lies won’t be discovered during the negotiations, but much later - like an undetonated bomb, just waiting to be uncovered to later explode your relationship.

My advice:

Be careful about making things up - if you get caught you risk ruining the relationship and any trust you once had, may never return.   Never assume the other person is so ill informed that they will fall for a lie.   If you don’t want to answer the question, avoid it rather than make a bare faced lie.

  1. Only reveal things gradually - if the other party reveals something, then you can reciprocate. You don’t need to reveal everything at once, pace it.
  2. If you have prepared properly you should be confident enough to reveal your opening positions (entry points), when asked, just don’t reveal how far you are willing to go (exit points). Have you ever lied in a negotiation? Or been lied to? What was the outcome?

Link here to find out more on the research