Negotiation Tips From Kellogg’s Leigh Thompson

The following was originally sourced from the article “Lies, Damned Lies, and Negotiations” written by Kellogg Professor Leigh Thompson, published on Kellogg’s News & Events page. 

Prof. Leigh Thompson from Kellogg School of Management recently put out a list of helpful negation tips for business school students. The list, which is made up of three simple rules, looks specifically at telling “untruths in negotiation settings.”

Here’s the list:

  1. Negotiators are under no obligation to truthfully reveal information. If you are asked intrusive questions, say that for strategic reasons you are not ready to discuss that and then turn the conversation back to your interests and what you hope to gain.
  2. If you are tempted to lie about having outside options that you don’t have, express your opinion, your optimism, and your opportunities.
  3. Rather than saying, “This is my final offer” — which often has the effect of creating a bargaining stand-off — make more offers that contain smaller concessions. Keep the momentum going but leave yourself room to move.

According to Thompson, About 90 percent of the time, the statement of “this is my final offer” is completely untrue. Most negotiators who claim that they are making their best and final offer are, in fact, not at their real reservation point — or their true walk-away. Rather, they are trying to scare the other negotiator into agreeing to their terms.

Are there any problems with lying in negotiation? Of course there is. Why is this important to always tell the truth? Most importantly, it’s because your reputation is one the line—a negotiator’s reputation is a precious resource that once scarred or marred can create an avalanche of undesirable outcomes.

So next time you want to gain momentum in a negotiation without throwing ethics out the window, check back to list easy list. Remember, honestly is usually the best policy.


About the Author

Max Pulcini
Max Pulcini

Max Pulcini is a Philadelphia-based writer and reporter. He has an affinity for Philly sports teams, Super Smash Bros. and cured meats and cheeses. Max has written for Philadelphia-based publications such as Spirit News, Philadelphia City Paper, and Billy Penn, as well as national news outlets like The Daily Beast.

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