So – does the other side really mean what they are saying? Will they really do what they are promising to do? I’m pretty sure that you and I can’t tell. The reason that we are so bad at detecting deception is because the most common signs of deception, such grammatical errors and as increased blinking, tend to be quite difficult to notice and interpret correctly. In addition, it may be difficult or impossible to determine whether the other side’s claim is true or not. If we can’t count on being able to detect lies, a more fruitful approach may be to find ways to discourage the other side from engaging in deceptive tactics in negotiation in the first place. When you’re seeking to negotiate a deal, the following moves may boost honesty in the other side:
It’s All About Goals
When you are negotiating with someone no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques you are using, you need to take the time to get to know them and ensure that they will meet their goals. When you express optimism that you will both meet your goals, you convey that you view negotiation as a problem-solving (rather than winner-take-all) enterprise and reduce the likely of competitive—and unethical on their part – moves.
Negotiations can take a long time. During this time it is all too easy for either side to lose sight of the finish line. What this means for you is that you are going to have to convince the other side that they are making progress. It’s easy to lose sight of how far we’ve come in the thick of a negotiation. Pointing out the progress that the other side has made will help increase their satisfaction, reduce their frustration, and help maintain a collaborative atmosphere.
We All Have The Same Goals
The reason that anyone agrees to enter into a negotiation is because they believe that by doing so they are going to be able to achieve their goals. In order to prevent the other side from thinking about doing anything underhanded it might be in your own best interests to point out how your goals and theirs are linked. Goals are often more closely intertwined than we might expect, and it can be wise to suggest that if they try to take advantage of you, they may harm themselves in the process.
Point Out That They Have No Other Options
What is going to be important to you is that the other side views the agreement that they reach with you as being important. One way to make that happen is for you to suggest that the other side has limited alternatives to the current deal. If you truly believe that the other side can’t get a better deal elsewhere, it can be useful to highlight this fact. The more committed the other side is to doing a deal with you, the more ethically they are likely to behave.
Let Them Know You Can Go Elsewhere
If the other side thinks that you have to reach a deal with them, then they will feel empowered and may have no qualms about taking advantage of you. However, if you take the time to let them know that you have strong outside alternatives this could change. Hinting that you have a strong BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) conveys to the other side that perhaps you need them less than they need you. If this is indeed the case, the warning should further deter the other party from lying and other deceptive behavior.
We Are All The Same
If you don’t want the other side to try to pull a fast one on you, then you are going to have to invest some time in letting them know that the two of you are more similar than different. Take the time to point out your shared social identities such as age, job history, marital status, etc. Bonding over your similarities will bring you closer together and may deter unethical behavior on their part.
The other side is less likely to try to put one over on you if they think that someone else is looking. In order to generate this kind of feeling you should encourage the other side to identify with an ethical organization, such as a trade group. Reminding people that they’re accountable to certain industry standards should also help promote honesty.
We All Move In The Same Circles
One thing that it can be easy to forget during a heated negotiation is that we all tend to move in the same circles. We know the same people, we communicate with the same people. What you are going to have to do during your negotiation is to note your connections to the other side’s social network. They’re less likely to try to deceive you if the news could get back to their friends and colleagues.
Send In The Law
The result of any negotiation is an agreement between both sides. The reason that negotiations work is because we believe that both side will keep their word and do what they promised to do. During the negotiation you are going to want to remind the other side of the legal implications of unethical behavior. You might also make a joint commitment upfront to negotiate openly and honestly.
A Negotiation Is The Start Of A Long Term Relationship
Although it can be very easy to focus on the deal that is on the table in front of you, both sides need to understand that if a deal can be reached, this is only the beginning of a longer term relationship. What you are going to want to do is to mention the prospect of future personal or social support. You might want to consider proposing becoming a gateway to valued social or business networks.
What All Of This Means For You
Now comes the big question — how effective is each one of these moves at curbing deceptive tactics in a principled negotiation? That may remain to be seen. Studies have been made that show that if these moves are used late in the game during a negotiation, they probably won’t work. Additionally, you’ll have to be careful because any one of these tactics can be combined with other unethical behavior.
Further research is going to be needed in order to test the effectiveness of these tactics at reducing deceptive tactics in negotiation. However, given the benefits of negotiation in business, you have strong incentives to try to promote more honest behavior and avoid failed negotiation by using these strategies proactively throughout the negotiation process.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: If you think that the other side won’t honor an agreement, what steps can you take before the negotiation is over?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Every negotiator wants to become better. However, the big question that we all face is how to go about doing this. For some of us, reading books on negotiations or attending negotiations can expose us to new negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. However, it turns out that most of us would benefit the most if we were able to cast off some negotiating misunderstandings that we all seem to be carrying around with us. These “negotiating lies” are baring us from improving our skills.