Learn how to negotiate like a diplomat, think on your feet like an improv performer, and master job offer negotiation like a professional athlete when you download a copy of our FREE special report, Negotiation Skills: Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques to Help You Become a Better Negotiator, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.


deception in negotiation

What is Deception in Negotiation?

Past negotiation research has found unequivocally that deception in negotiation is toxic. 

When detected, lies and other forms of deception trigger negative emotions, prompt retaliation, and irrevocably damage trust between negotiators. But deception in negotiation isn’t always a simple issue of right and wrong. Nor is it always easy to detect, even within ourselves.

Because people respond strongly to their environment, personal standards for negotiation ethics often vary depending on the context.

For example, many of us may unknowingly adjust our ethical standards based on the negotiation context. And even though most negotiators strive to tell the truth, that doesn’t always hold up if they believe their counterpart is lying to them. 

There are ways to minimize the possibility of deception in negotiation. One of the most beneficial is to promote a spirit of collaboration. Because competitiveness is linked to deception in negotiation, take steps to foster a collaborative, cooperative atmosphere right from the start. Negotiators are less likely to use ethically ambiguous tactics, such as making misleading statements or withholding the truth, when they know the other party well, trust her, and are concerned that the relationship could be damaged by dishonest behavior. 

Keep in mind that it can be very difficult to prove someone is trying to deceive you. If you accuse your counterpart of lying, he will probably deny the charge, and you will end up in a heated disagreement.

Rather than calling your counterpart a liar, you might explain that you feel deceived, then talk about whether the deception was intentional or not,

Learn how to negotiate like a diplomat, think on your feet like an improv performer, and master job offer negotiation like a professional athlete when you download a copy of our FREE special report, Negotiation Skills: Negotiation Strategies and Negotiation Techniques to Help You Become a Better Negotiator, from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

The following items are tagged deception in negotiation:

Negotiation Research Examines Ethics in Negotiating

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Negotiation Skills.

Lack of transparency regarding negotiations between hospitals and the insurers known as preferred provider organizations, or PPOs, is a key contributor to spiraling health-care costs in the United States, back in a 2013 article in the New York Times. This topic has many questioning ethics in negotiating within the healthcare industry. The problem starts with the … Read More 

Cognitive Biases in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution – Common Negotiation Mistakes

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Conflict Resolution.

Negotiators planning to engage in conflict resolution in a personal or business disputes should be aware of cognitive biases in negotiation, particularly when your dispute is being decided by a judge. Before doing so, you should consider carefully what psychologists, political scientists, and legal scholars have learned about judges from negotiation research and social science: … Read More 

Negotiation Research: A Downside of Anger

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Conflict Resolution.

We know that anger leads negotiators to make riskier choices and blame others when things go wrong. In a new study, researchers Jeremy A. Yip and Maurice E. Schweitzer find that anger also leads us to engage in greater deception in negotiation—even when it’s not our counterpart who angered us. In one of the study’s experiments, … Read More 

Dear Negotiation Coach: Faltering by “paltering”

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Dealmaking.

Q: As an HR manager, I struggle with the issue of how open and transparent to be during hiring negotiations. Sometimes, for example, I have only one worthy candidate for a position. Naturally, I would prefer not to share this fact because the candidate might use it to gain an edge. In cases like this, … Read More 

Will you behave ethically?

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Negotiation Skills.

A lack of transparency regarding negotiations between hospitals and the insurers known as preferred provider organizations, or PPOs, is a key contributor to spiraling health-care costs in the United States, according to an August article in the New York Times. The problem starts with the somewhat arbitrary, sky-high prices that hospitals put on their supplies and … Read More 

Are you being hoodwinked?

Posted by PON Staff & filed under Daily, Negotiation Skills.

As a partner at your growing law firm, you’ve been charged with negotiating the lease of much-needed additional office space in your building. The real-estate agent has informed you that if you don’t increase your offer by $10,000 by the end of the day, you’ll lose the space to another company. Is she bluffing, or … Read More