February 1, 2023

Being misleading — or now not completely truthful — in negotiations is moderately commonplace. However two experiments discovered that it may well have a damaging impact: It may unfold in a company. This newsletter discusses the analysis findings and provides measures that may curb the observe of probably contagious over the top deception.

Consider you’re seeking to strike a care for a provider or you are a provider seeking to strike a care for a possible customer and the opposite corporate’s negotiator lies to you. Do you A) reply with honesty or B) lie proper again?

Selection A is for the white knights amongst us who strictly observe Kant’s express crucial of performing the way in which how you could need others to behave. Alternatively, many of us go for the “tit for tat” habits and make a selection Choice B: They lie again.

However as our analysis — revealed within the Magazine of Operations Control — discovered, there’s a darkish aspect to doing so. Mendacity as soon as will also be contagious. It may pave the way in which for mendacity once more in different interactions or negotiations with folks at different corporations. Subsequently, there are movements that businesses must take to curb such habits and save you it from spreading.

Our Findings

We arrange two experiments with 350 and 424 salespeople with B2B gross sales negotiation revel in. In each experiments, contributors acted as gross sales managers for a good looks and residential care merchandise provider and engaged in negotiations over the product costs with buying managers from other buyer companies.

Our effects printed transparent contagion results. Our first experiment confirmed that handiest 16% of contributors who have been at the receiving finish of honesty lied within the ultimate negotiation, however 55% of contributors who witnessed misleading habits lied.


In our 2d experiment, we made tweaks to make dishonesty fairly much less interesting and to test for the robustness of the consequences. The contagion impact remained: Greater than two times as many contributors selected deception when prior to now witnessing it as those that have been prior to now subjected to honesty. Inversely, each experiments additionally showed the contagion of honesty. Unusually, the frequency with which contributors have been uncovered to a habits didn’t trade contagion results total. A unmarried occurrence was once enough to spark contagion.

Preemptive Measures

Our experiments counsel that an organization must watch out about whom it does industry with, as a result of in any case, its habits could be influenced by way of theirs. However how do you stay your corporate from being inflamed? The next measures would possibly lend a hand:

Ensure that your negotiating staff has no less than two folks.

The mere life of a 2d pair of eyes would possibly make the lead negotiator extra conscious about his or her personal habits and, consequently, withstand the type of impulsive movements that result in lies.

Strongly support your code of behavior.

As an example, it’s possible you’ll require staff in negotiation positions to go through biannual ethics coaching quite than the one-off crash ethics direction in the beginning of employment that different employees continuously obtain. You may additionally ask staff leaders to remind staff concerning the corporate’s core moral rules in per 30 days staff conferences. In any case, negotiating groups may collectively assessment their behaviors after a negotiation to mirror on whether or not the code of behavior was once violated. Understanding that one’s cheating negotiation behaviors will probably be reviewed by way of colleagues would possibly create peer power, inflicting that individual to higher adhere to the code of behavior.

In moderation display the opposite corporate’s negotiators.

Undoubtedly, some extent of dishonesty will also be seen as a part of the negotiating sport, however for the reason that such habits can infect your staff and feature lasting results, you shouldn’t tolerate extremes. To that finish, it is advisable to stay a document of alternative events’ behaviors or have your staff’s negotiators examine notes about earlier interactions with the individual in query.

If it seems that the individual was once a nasty actor, it is advisable to call for the opposite corporate change her or him and provide an explanation for why you make that request. Or it is advisable to make a selection to not do industry with that corporate.

Right through negotiations, it is advisable to additionally use tool to spot dangerous actors. With the assistance of an automatic language research program known as Linguistic Inquiry and Phrase Depend, we analyzed the phraseology of negotiation statements and located that, on reasonable, truthful statements had a better stage of phrases reflecting analytical pondering (e.g., “know,” “purpose”) and authenticity (e.g., “I,” present-tense verbs) and a decrease stage of emotional phrases (e.g., “worry,” “happiness”) than mendacity statements.

Whilst there is not any vaccine, those measures would possibly lend a hand your company turn into extra resilient in opposition to contagious dishonesty.