“False Premises Can Lead To Deadly Results In A Negotiation” Negotiation Tip of the Week

“To accept false premises as truths is to accept untruths as reality. Think about the way you think.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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“False Premises Can Lead To Deadly Results In A Negotiation”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

When you’re in a negotiation, do you consider how you and the opposing negotiator present offers? More specifically, do you lend thought to the validity leading up to those offers? False premises may be the foundation of some of those offers, making them less based on reality.

A false premise may not stand up to a test of logic, believability, or against facts. Negotiators use them in some negotiations to sway a negotiator’s perspective, cloud his decision-making abilities, or feel him with doubt about the best action to adopt. Thus, a negotiator can wield false premises that disadvantage his opponent without the opponent knowing such exist. That’s why you should increase your negotiation skills to deal with them. And here’s how you can do that.  

Emotional Control

Why do some negotiators fall prey to false premises while others easily avoid them? The common thread for those that get shackled by them is the degree of emotional control they grant the premise. Once their emotions get entangled in the thought of, ‘Yeah, the premise might be right,’ they lose their ability to calculate the probability of it being correct rationally. And once a negotiator is on that path, unless he applies the brakes to that line of thinking, he’ll become engulfed in a downward spiral. All of that will lead him deeper into the opposing negotiator’s lure. To prevent that from occurring:

1. Balance your head and heart. Sometimes, our intellect drives our decisions. And at other times, they’re driven by our emotions. When considering the driving forces behind your thoughts and actions, consider how they’re controlling you and where they’re leading. If that process is not serving you, discontinue it.

2. Don’t allow yourself to become too emotionally attached to a situation. If you do, it can become the source that causes you to make bad decisions. At times, emotions can trump logic, which is why you must keep your emotions in check if they’re harming your negotiation position.

If you’re someone that finds it difficult to say no in certain situations, remember to say yes to yourself. Meaning, keep your interest top of mind. No one should want to do more for you than you want to do for yourself.

False Premise Recognition

Non-Quantified Positioning

Be aware of statements that are fraught with attempts to tug at your emotion. Such phrases as, everybody knows …, most negotiators …, and, that’s always …, can be an attempt to have you think your thoughts are in the minority. Don’t allow someone to use your mind against you.

Zero-sum Thinking

I lose if you gain. Zero-sum thoughts may come under the heading of a negative perspective or a negotiator’s fear about the negotiation’s flow. You must recognize this form of false premises. Because if you deal with its source, not the premise, it’ll be easier confronting the other negotiator about his beliefs.

Reality Test

There may be times when you instinctively sense that a premise doesn’t pass the test of reality. That feeling may emanate from your head, heart, or gut. The point is, note your feelings. In many situations, people sense ‘something,’ unaware of the source. The source can be what you perceive subliminally while not entirely at a state of full consciousness. Don’t discount such feelings. They could be your protectors. 

Poking Holes In False Premises

False premises can be irritating and confounding. In so being, they can take you mentally out of your negotiation game plan. So, how might you address and overcome the use of false premises against you? Consider the following.

1. You can challenge someone’s premises with your premises.

2. Be attentive to where your focus lies. If you lend too much attention to a single premise, you may miss more important ones. To poke holes in one, you must know what to observe. To do that, don’t diffuse your attention.

3. Use questions to control the negotiation and that of premises. Asking a question like, can you show me where that’s true can expose a premise for its lack of truthfulness.

Dealing With False Premises

Two negotiators were negotiating. One said to the other, “Statistics show that four out of ten negotiators that don’t get the deal they want regret it later. Do you want that to happen to you?” How might you respond?

Can you detect the not-so-subtle premise being used to sway the other negotiator’s position? While four out of ten negotiators later regret not getting a deal, that premise omits the opposite. Six out of ten don’t feel regret.

Consider examining premises from different viewpoints, pro, and con, to deal better with them. By doing so, you’ll obtain a different perspective. And in some cases, you’ll be able to turn it against your opposition.


Yes. False premises can lead to deadly results in a negotiation. That’s why you must be mindful of when they occur, their impact on your interactions with your counterpart, and how you address them. Suffice it to say, the best way to control false premises is to anticipate them, analyze them sufficiently when they occur, and act upon them judiciously. Doing so will allow you to have greater oversight over false premises while preventing them from dominating you in the negotiation. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/greg-williams-the-master-negotiator-and-body-language-expert-podcast/

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight,” click here https://themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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