The Negotiator Magazine

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Finding differences between points of view is normal. In the negotiation process it does not matter who is right. If rightness would be the criteria, than we would go to arbitrage or in court where somebody else would tell us who is right, but this is not negotiation.

In negotiation we use rightness only as a threat: "I am right, and I will demonstrate this in court". In fact, the reason that we negotiate is because we have different points of view and through negotiation we try to find ways to balance this difference.

Imagine that in building a house, some delays occur. It was a heavy rainy and cold season. The client can accuse the contractor of incompetence and the contractor can accuse the client of having no clue about construction and not understanding what the clause in the contract means about "improper meteorological conditions". Is it important to establish who is right? Of course not! What matters is: what ways can they find to continue what they started? The answer to this question is given by a correct negotiation process.

But, what if I would lie? Would I obtain advantages? Yes, of course! In negotiation by lying, deceiving and manipulating we may gain advantages in terms of results. With two observations:

Does this mean that in negotiation I have to tell only "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?" No. Even if we wanted to do so, in most cases we wouldn't succeed because of communication difficulties. Not everything we say is understood by others. Partly, this is the result of our poor communication skills. Partly, this is the product of the lack of understanding by others.

Trying to tell the whole truth is a great naivety. Showing all our cards would be our key for failure in that negotiation. The worst possible result would be ours.

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January 2005