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How to Deal with a Negotiator Who Lies

By |July 21, 2015

Ever wonder what's the best way to deal with a negotiator who lies? Focus on implementation.

It’s actually pretty much that simple. It is one of the reasons that one of the fundamental negotiation rules that The Black Swan Group lives by is:

“Yes” is nothing without “How”

Focusing on implementation will actually make almost all aspects of your negotiation better. It also makes negotiations easier because you have to worry far less about whether or not your counterpart is lying.

How do you focus on implementation? And the answer is... Focus on “How”

Ask questions like:

  • “How will we make this work?”
  • “How will we know we’re on track?”
  • “How will we get back on track if we find out were off track?”

No implementation is ever perfect. Bearing that in mind, build into your negotiation/implementation strategy an agreed upon way to deal with unforeseen problems. This not only provides an incentive for better implementation, it also reduces tension during implementation and contributes to a better long-term working relationship.

I was once in a city in the Middle East which effectively had no street signs or street names. I have to get to a graduation function that evening for the graduation of the negotiation course that The Black Swan Group staff had been conducting in that country for over a year. My colleagues and I needed our point of contact (POC) to take us to the function or provide transportation for us. Our POC was an American and he was a representative of the American company that hired us.

For reasons unknown to me at the time, he was reluctant to either pick us up or provide us with transportation. He called me on the phone and advised for us to just take cabs from the hotel. Strongly sensing that he wasn’t being honest with me, I instead focused on implementation. I said to him “How are we going to find this place?” And he quickly replied “I’ll get you a map.” I remember quite clearly that I almost fell for that.

I thought about it for a moment, realizing that we had no mechanism for him to give me a map and said to him “How are you going to get me the map?” Complete silence.

He ended up agreeing to send cars for us (and paying for those cars). I’m convinced in hindsight he was simply trying to avoid the expense of the car (which was his responsibility) and simply didn’t want to admit that.

Focus on implementation. It will serve you well.

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