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You can negotiate better by lying right when it’s appropriate to do so. The question is, when is the right time to lie and how do you determine when it’s appropriate?
At first blush, some people will be repelled by considering aloud that we lie during negotiations. I stated such in prior writings and people were appalled to be confronted with the fact that they lie when they’re negotiating. People responded by saying they never lie when negotiating and it would be considered to be unethical for them to do so. When I responded by querying them per the degree that they answer every question posed honestly, they exclaimed that they may ‘skit the truth’ (i.e. not be 100% honest), but that’s not lying. Thus, by that person’s definition, you would not be lying if you did not disclose 100% of the truth. Others might consider that lying by omission but that would be that individual’s perspective of what a lie is. Thus, once you know the definition under which a lie is defined as untruthfulness, you can lie during the negotiation and not fret about doing so.
I recall the line in a movie where one person says, “I want the truth.’ To which the other states, ‘You can’t handle the truth.’ In some cases, we lie to save face, not embarrass the other negotiator, or to enhance our persona in an effort to increase our negotiation position. In other situations, some people just don’t want to hear the truth. They in essence say, lie to me and I’ll trust you. Isn’t that an oxymoron?
When determining if you’ll lie, you have to consider, do you tell your opponent what he wants to hear to progress the negotiation and try to improve the promise/agreement later, or do you run the risk of a possible impasse at that moment by telling the truth? Part of that answer may reside in the stakes for which you’re negotiating, but still, it’s something to contemplate whenever you negotiate because you may not know to what degree the other negotiator is placing value on the outcome of the negotiation; he may be lying to improve his position. In that case, you’d be right to fight fire with fire (i.e. lying too), if for no other reason than to see how far he’ll go with his lies. Mind you, the negotiation can become very convoluted if both of you are doing nothing more than lying your way through the negotiation. Trust may also be a victim of future negotiations the two of you engage in.
Nevertheless, lying when appropriate in a negotiation is something you have to consider; some negotiators use lying as a tool in their negotiation repertoire. Even if you’re the most upright person in the world, in a negotiation some take the perspective that all is fair in love and war and some consider negotiations as a form of war. To win, fight by meeting your negotiation opponent with weapons calibrated to his power. In so doing, at minimum, you’ll be negotiating on equal ground. Then, all you have to do is look for an advantage during the negotiation to come out ahead … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!