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Your Weekly Walkaway - Thou Shalt Not Lie!
The Weekly Walkway highlights negotiation in its ‘good’, ‘bad’ and sometimes ‘downright ugly’ forms. Newsletter Issue No. 14 (16th December 2022)
What to expect?
Quotes of the Week - “Lies require noise and misdirection to blend in; silence is the best way to draw the truth to the surface.”
Tactic of the Week - Misdirection
Thought of the Week - Thou Shalt Not Lie!
Remember: You are a negotiator!
You are always managing some form of conflict, a difference of opinion or interest.
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QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“Lies require noise and misdirection to blend in, silence is the best way to draw the truth to the surface.”
“Deceit, distortion, misdirection, and concealment are all lies in altered masks.”
Richelle E. Goodrich
“In Business, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”
TACTIC OF THE WEEK
Dictionary Definition - “the action of making people pay attention to the wrong thing, usually intentionally, so that they will not notice something else”.
Have you ever negotiated when your counterpart gives you the impression that an issue, a problem, a particular variable is very very important to them? Have you then, in cooperation, worked hard to solve that problem or find a mutually beneficial result? I would suggest the vast majority of you should be saying ‘Yes’, because guess what people, that’s negotiation. But how many of you when you’ve secured that agreement and sit back satisfied with the deal have in fact been ‘misdirected’?
Had you just been led down the garden path, shown the bright shiny issue in one hand so you didn’t look at the other hand? Simple misdirection.
Beware. ‘Misdirection’ is used against you, all the time. Examples;
They say they have a big problem. Your service levels and quality are just not good enough, when they are. They get you to focus on solving this problem whilst all the time their real focus was always on price or better terms;
They say something is non-negotiable when in fact is becomes negotiable at the end, what is it they get for making that issue negotiable;
They say you need to reciprocate, when they take a really big problem or issue away, off the table. That problem or issue was ‘fake’, a lie. Created to trap you into focusing elsewhere and giving you the feeling you are now obligated to them. To move something ‘real’.
Nothing ever happens by accident in negotiation. Always be aware. Remain consciously competent at all times. Question everything. Challenge everything and never accept the easy route to satisfaction.
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Thou Shalt Not Lie!
This week we came across a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology written by Alex Van Zant, PhD, of Rutgers University called: In negotiations, hoodwinking others has a cost. Hoodwinking, meaning ‘lie to’.
You can find the study here:
The author’s summary;
“Lying to another person to get the better of them in a financial negotiation might win you more money, but you are likely to end up feeling guilty and less satisfied with the deal than if you had been honest, according to new research.”
“The researchers found these effects held true regardless of people's personal sense of morality and ethical standards. People who described themselves as highly empathic and said that being just, compassionate and fair was extremely important to them, and those who rated those characteristics as less important to them, were equally likely to feel guilty and dissatisfied after lying.”
Wow...What a massive statement. If you got a better deal than your counterpart, do you feel guilty or unhappy because you lied?
Even when liars get more money, they feel guilty and unhappy
Really? So, after reading this and especially after last week's newsletter on;
I was drawn to read on like a wasp to honey, a cat to milk, a negotiator to a deal.
Them - “What is the highest price you can pay?”… You - “Oh, yeah, well… Errr..”
Them - “I’ll pay £30,000”… You - “No, it’s £34,000” (when you could accept £28,000).
You’re just not going to answer with a ‘truth’, are you? It just wouldn't be in your interest. Negotiation requires us to bend the rules that society has created for us. We do it because our counterparts are interpreting those same rules in their favour.
I had to read the article a few times, and I recommend you do too. I found I disagreed with much of it, but I’ve pulled up three main points; read on.
Every decision in negotiation depends on circumstances. Not one negotiation is ever the same, and circumstances are forever changing. Negotiation depends on P.L.A.N.T ©; Power, Longevity, Advanced, Need and Trust. (@Kahvay)
For example, if you don't ‘need’ nor have any ‘trust’ in your counterpart, then you will feel a high level of satisfaction and low levels of guilt if you achieve more. Example:
Telling a second-hand car salesperson that you have less to spend than their advertised price when you do, and whilst also saying you have other options to consider when you don’t or;
Managing an electronic auction process and suggesting to the bidders, the prospective suppliers, that there is a lot of competition when there isn't and that the bidders should rethink their pricing when they don’t.
Both examples require very little to no trust, and the price is the only variable that matters. The sample negotiated over a 2nd hand laptop; it was not an advanced negotiation with multi variables. Price-focused negotiations become win/lose and the competition over who gets more. In this instance, I’d suggest you’d feel very little guilt and higher levels of satisfaction by achieving more. What you win, the other loses, and what they win, you lose; it's that simple.
Who is ‘this sample’? The author suggests they used over 900 people in their study. My question is, “are they commercial negotiators with the training and skills to negotiate or are they average Joe and Janet sat at home, unskilled, un-trained and maybe inexperienced with only their feelings and emotions controlling their actions?
Based on the results, I’d suggest the sample is average Joe and Janet.
If that is the case, then this ‘sample’ is not a true reflection of commercial negotiation. They don't understand that Negotiation is a beautiful dance, a ritual, a game. A game that has a process for giving satisfaction as a tool for making your counterpart feel like they got a good deal.
The research also did not take into account the need to open extreme. Asking for more than they needed. In a commercial negotiation, both parties would open extreme. If they don’t, they’re leaving money on the table! How extreme you open is based again on P.L.A.N.T ©; Power, Longevity, Advanced, Need and Trust. (@Kahvay)
Even really fair-minded people with a high bar of ethics and morality want to sell their house for the most amount possible or buy their house for as little as possible. The study seems to take the stance that the ‘sample’ on both sides are outraged and guilty in equal measure that someone (or both of them) is asking for more than they need.
The art of giving satisfaction is to open extreme and move, to concede; this gives satisfaction to the counterpart (the feeling of winning, achieving a good deal).
Commercial negotiators understand that not being truthful is just a tactic to be aware of. It’s a tactic used during negotiations and not to be taken personally. A tactic is just that, a tool used to shift the balance of power in the user’s favour. It's not personal, so for the ‘sample’, finding a tactic hurtful or suffering deceiver's guilt would suggest the ‘sample’ are not professional negotiators.
I have to wonder if the author has ever negotiated a commercial deal before. The author is obviously very intelligent, but I fear this may be written from the perspective of ‘teaching it’ rather than ‘doing it’.
The simple reality is that in commercial negotiations, you have one job; to look after your money or your stakeholder’s and/or shareholders’ money.
You are coming from different positions, that is the essence of negotiation, and it's just not in their interest to agree with your point of view, even if they did agree with it. It is that simple; it just would not be in their interest to agree, so they will ‘lie’ and ‘hurt’ (using the same emotive language as the author) their counterpart to ensure they protect themselves and their shareholders. Let's be very clear here;
By saying ‘No’ when you can say ‘yes’ is lying, isn't it?
By saying “I don't know that” when you do, is lying isn’t it?
Lying becomes subjective. A lie to one person is not to another. Some people will say they held information back or weren't asked the right question so they didn't have to provide information which they knew would be used against them. That’s just an appropriate negotiation technique.
And what about the fact that in commercial negotiation, your counterpart doesn't have to accept your offer; they don't have a gun to their head? Therefore if they do accept, there must surely be something worthwhile in the deal for them to accept!
Lastly, let me state that we (@kahvay) are very specific in our own position when it comes to the decades-old argument; to lie or not to lie in negotiation. We say, “never lie in a negotiation”. You’ve already got enough going on in your head to keep a lie going. We are very clear here, don’t make up facts or figures, and don’t try to blag or bluff. It’s hard enough negotiating a complex commercial deal without the need to create and keep alive a false story!
“If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.“
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