The Truth, the Whole Truth . . . Or Something Like the Truth?
Honesty and Deceit in Negotiation
A quick word first
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What to say when telling the truth will cost you
Do you always tell the truth when you negotiate? How about the people you deal with: Can you count on them to be completely honest with you? In this article, and another one to follow next week, we’ll explore truth-telling (or the lack of it) at the bargaining table.
These two pieces build on a pair of articles last month that raised the issue of ethics in negotiation. The issue we explored was whether we have any obligation to be fair to other parties. The focus there was on outcomes, who gets what share of the pie. Incidentally, the readers who answered the survey I put up were sharply divided on that question.
In case you missed those articles, here they are:
Fair enough? Three conflicting perspectives.
Fair enough part 2: Why tell anyone they’re offering you too good a deal.
The first piece presented a scenario where had been looking for a rustic cabin that would give you a welcome change of scene weekends and on summer vacation. After a lot of searching, you finally found the perfect spot. As it happened, the elderly owner had significantly underpriced the property. Would you snap it up, haggle for an even better deal, or tell the person that the cabin is worth more?
Now we’ll advance that story a few years.
Assume that you bought the cabin for an acceptable price. You’ve enjoyed the place greatly but just learned that a motorcycle track will be built nearby in the coming months. The new facility will meet all environmental and land-use regulations, but there is no doubt that you’ll hear the noise and have to deal with heavy traffic, especially on weekends. So, it’s time for you to move on.
You found the old For Sale sign that the prior owner had painted, and you nailed it to the same tree by the roadside. An eager young couple, driving an expensive car, has toured the property and appears ready to make an offer. One of them asks, “Why would you ever want to sell such a beautiful place?”
Which of the following responses comes closest to how you’dd answer that question?
A. “You know, ever since I put up the sign, I’ve been thinking the same thing myself.”
B. “I’m worried that the noise from the new motorcycle track may be disturbing.”
C “Oh, I guess it just feels like time to try something new.”
Submitting your response
Here’s a link to a survey where you can enter your choice and comments, anonymously if you like. I’m looking forward to discussing the issues in the follow-up article May 27. Be sure to submit your response by then!
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