In Supplier Negotiations, Lying Is Contagious

Shira Smolko

Remaining deceptive — or not completely genuine — in negotiations is fairly frequent. But two experiments identified that it can have a unsafe influence: It can unfold in an organization. This article discusses the exploration results and offers steps that can curb the exercise of possibly contagious too much deception.

Picture you are hoping to strike a offer with a provider or you are a provider striving to strike a offer with a opportunity client and the other company’s negotiator lies to you. Do you A) respond with honesty or B) lie correct back again?

Decision A is for the white knights between us who strictly follow Kant’s categorical vital of acting the way how you would want other individuals to act. Even so, a lot of persons choose for the “tit for tat” habits and pick Solution B: They lie back.

But as our research — released in the Journal of Functions Management — identified, there is a dark facet to undertaking so. Lying as soon as can be contagious. It can pave the way for lying once again in other interactions or negotiations with people at other firms. Thus, there are actions that corporations should consider to curb these types of conduct and avert it from spreading.

Our Findings

We set up two experiments with 350 and 424 salespeople with B2B gross sales negotiation expertise. In the two experiments, individuals acted as gross sales supervisors for a attractiveness and residence treatment products provider and engaged in negotiations around the merchandise price ranges with buying administrators from unique consumer companies.

Our benefits discovered distinct contagion results. Our initial experiment confirmed that only 16% of contributors who had been on the receiving stop of honesty lied in the last negotiation, but 55% of individuals who witnessed misleading habits lied.


In our second experiment, we designed tweaks to make dishonesty considerably significantly less desirable and to check for the robustness of the results. The contagion effect remained: Additional than two times as a lot of members chose deception when previously witnessing it as people who had been previously subjected to honesty. Inversely, both equally experiments also verified the contagion of honesty. Shockingly, the frequency with which contributors were being exposed to a behavior did not change contagion effects total. A single incidence was sufficient to spark contagion.

Preemptive Steps

Our experiments recommend that a business should really be mindful about whom it does small business with, for the reason that in the conclusion, its habits is most likely to be influenced by theirs. But how do you keep your firm from currently being infected? The following steps may help:

Ensure your negotiating staff has at the very least two individuals.

The mere existence of a next pair of eyes could make the direct negotiator a lot more informed of his or her own behavior and, as a result, resist the type of impulsive steps that lead to lies.

Strongly enhance your code of carry out.

For example, you might need workforce in negotiation positions to undergo biannual ethics schooling alternatively than the 1-off crash ethics study course at the commencing of work that other staff typically get. You may also ask group leaders to remind personnel about the company’s core ethical ideas in monthly crew meetings. Eventually, negotiating teams could jointly evaluate their behaviors after a negotiation to replicate on whether or not the code of carry out was violated. Being aware of that one’s dishonest negotiation behaviors will be reviewed by colleagues may possibly develop peer pressure, triggering that particular person to improved adhere to the code of perform.

Very carefully screen the other company’s negotiators.

Unquestionably, some degree of dishonesty can be viewed as element of the negotiating recreation, but given that such habits can infect your workforce and have long lasting results, you shouldn’t tolerate extremes. To that conclusion, you could maintain a file of other parties’ behaviors or have your team’s negotiators review notes about prior interactions with the man or woman in dilemma.

If it turns out that the human being was a undesirable actor, you could need the other corporation substitute him or her and demonstrate why you are making that ask for. Or you could choose not to do business enterprise with that corporation.

All through negotiations, you could also use program to discover undesirable actors. With the support of an automatic language assessment software termed Linguistic Inquiry and Phrase Depend, we analyzed the phrasing of negotiation statements and observed that, on common, genuine statements had a higher degree of text reflecting analytical imagining (e.g., “know,” “cause”) and authenticity (e.g., “I,” existing-tense verbs) and a decrease degree of psychological text (e.g., “fear,” “happiness”) than lying statements.

Whilst there is no vaccine, these measures may possibly enable your company turn out to be more resilient versus contagious dishonesty.

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