“Truth, Lies, Coverups, – How To Catch Liars Lying In A Negotiation” – Negotiation Insight

“Lies are alive when truth hides in disguise.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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“Truth, Lies, Coverups, –

How To Catch Liars Lying In A Negotiation”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

She felt trapped! She suspected the opposing negotiator had caught the lies she told. But she knew she had to protect her negotiation position. And lying in the negotiation was the only way to do that. That is why the coverup occurred, or so she thought.

People lie for many reasons. Have you ever wondered about the signs that liars display when they are lying? What follows are considerations to ponder about how to catch liars in your negotiation.

Truth, Lies, Coverups

Switch And Bait

You have no doubt heard of bait and switch. Well, this is its cousin, switch and bait. Use this tactic to obtain concealed information or information you suspect is not entirely truthful. To employ it:

Switch a small detail in the other negotiator’s story and observe what he does. For example, if he stated earlier in the negotiation that he could do a deal at 13%, challenge him later by saying the number he stated previously was 12%. Be sure to cite a number close to his original pronouncement. If he says okay to the 12%, you just benefited. That also means 13% was not the truth.   

That is the format of the switch and bait. You can use it at different times throughout the negotiation. You can also combine it with other statements you alter and attribute to him.

Be mindful not to appear sinister when enacting this ploy. You do not want to come across as someone lying about your remembrance or deceiving the other negotiator. If your opponent perceives you as such, that will encourage him to push back on you and continue his antics. 

The Roundabout

The roundabout is a negotiation technique used to get information indirectly. Thus, if you wanted to uncover or suspected that the other negotiator had previously given a better deal to someone else, you might ask him what circumstances allowed him to make that deal. In return, he may ask about the arrangement you are referencing.

You can discuss something that you thought of for this purpose during the planning stage of your negotiation – you should have given this thought before beginning the negotiation.

The point is, you want to observe how he responds to the question. Note whether he answers hesitantly or with the assurance that he has not given a better deal to anyone.

If he reacts hesitantly, place a mental tickmark towards him possibly having made a better offer to someone else, and seek your opportunity to get a better deal, too. Once again, you will have uncovered something less than the complete truth when he said he offered you his best deal.     

How To Catch Liars

The Setup

To catch a negotiator in a lie that you are sure he is telling, first, set him up. Do so by asking outright when he gave another negotiator a better deal; that is an assumptive question – the assumption being a better deal was extended at some prior point. Even if you are not sure he issued one, your query will imply that you are if you present it in the form of an assumptive question.

If the other negotiator says he has not given a better deal in the past, and you believe him, let the question rest. Do not pursue your line of questioning. Instead, seek to uncover a time that he did make a better offer.

If you discover that he did, do not confront him with that fact initially. Wait to use it until you ask him for a concession. And then spring what you uncovered about the prior deal that was better. You will have caught him in a lie. And to extricate himself, he may grant that concession.

The Trap

The government has issued contracts to all firms that meet a particular criterion. The other negotiator has indicated that his firm has met that criterion in past conversations. During the negotiation, ask, casually, how his firm is doing with the new contract. If he says his firm was ineligible, ask why. And state that every firm that met the criterion received it. Remind him of the prior conversation whereby he said they were eligible.

At that point, he has unwittingly exposed his former pronouncements about his firm’s position. You have caught him in a lie, and he knows it. From there, determine your next move. Do you let him simmer in his guilt? Or, do you allow him to get off the hook by doing something nice for you? You are in control. You make that decision. It might be an excellent time to get a negotiation concession.  


Always be guarded about the assumptions you make. They will influence your mind and the actions you take. Plus, your premises will help shape how the other negotiator perceives you based on those actions. And false assumptions can be the hindrance that causes you to miss cues, and clues, that conceal coverups, which lead to lies.  


People lie for different reasons. And knowing negotiators may be lying at any moment in a negotiation means you must constantly be tuned in to when and why they are lying. That is the only way you will be able to catch the lies of liars. That will also allow you to uncover when negotiators tell the truth and prevent coverups that otherwise might derail your 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

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