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Business involves negotiation, and in the process, you’ll come across plenty of lying. This will involve all manner of falsehoods, from omitted information to outright untruths. Get used to it, and use it to your advantage. Become accustomed to working with it as part of the game of giving and taking. Recently, there was a very interesting blog post on Harvard Business Review on How to Negotiate with a Liar. After reading through that post, which is a little over 2,000 words, we decided to share our own take on the subject. With that said, here is how to negotiate with a liar, no psychology degree required.


Pay Attention to All Their Words

Listen closely to hear what they might unintentionally say. Little slips of the tongue, rambling and backtracking are all giving away important information. In negotiating with a liar, these words reveal truths. Studies have shown this to be true. Think of them as gifts. To discount them would weaken your negotiating strategy.

Don’t Bring Up Privacy

This actually backfires. It causes people to bend the truth more and share less. It turns out that promising confidentiality is a poor negotiating technique. It is likely that it causes people to become keenly aware that what they say can work against them. At any rate, surveys by the National Reseach Council confirmed that people share less under these conditions. In fact, the more informal you can be, the better.


Be aware that in negotiating with a liar, they will volunteer information in an effort to make themselves look good and make you forget about your questions. Researchers found that people don’t notice this diversion. This could be because they are using it as an opportunity to tell you what you want to hear. The other party may interject with information that’s not related to what you asked them about. Make sure your questions are answered completely before you move on to other topics.

Missing Information

Negotiating with a liar means being aware that they can lie by omission, leaving things out. Before meeting with them, craft your questions so that you don’t leave room for them to do this. Go into the negotiation with your questions and make sure they’re answered to your satisfaction. Difficulty in getting your questions answered is a sign the truth isn’t being told.


This is one of the strongest negotiation techniques because it builds rapport. Share something with them, and encourage them to respond. Do this repeatedly to build a relationship. This makes them less likely to lie to you. It creates a situation where they’re likely to share more information that you can use to negotiate.

Knowing how to negotiate with a liar will help you make money and succeed in business. As discussed, forms of lying range from leaving out details to entire misrepresentations. Good entrepreneurs learn and practice lying countermeasures, giving them a winning edge.



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