When two parties negotiate a written agreement, one partner usually does the drafting. We'll let Donald be the drafter, and we'll call the Other partner Olivia. Here are some deceptive techniques available to drafters. See "Extrasensory Deception: I," Point Lookout for October 22, 2008, for other deceptive negotiation tactics.
- The non-redraft redraft
- Donald agrees to drop language cited by Olivia, but in redrafting, he inserts new language that has the same effect, albeit somewhat more artful. He then presents it as a serious attempt to address Olivia's concerns, and he might even say, "Shall we move on to the next section?"
- Donald's behavior is a deception, intended to suggest that Olivia's concerns were addressed, when they were not. The more clever operators might even materially weaken Olivia's position.
- The bonus
- Donald agrees to add language Olivia requested, but he also inserts conditions that weren't requested, and which erode the effect of the requested language.
- This deception is related to the Non-Redraft Redraft, but it applies to the requested addition of new language, rather than to the revision of existing language. It can be more subtle because the bonus changes might have been inserted elsewhere.
- Unexpected revisions
- When Donald returns with the redraft, he's made the changes that were discussed, but he's also made some unrelated changes that weren't discussed. During the walkthrough, he omits any mention of the unexpected revisions, or mentions them only in passing. He pressures Olivia so as to limit the time she has to contemplate their impact.
- Unless Donald is a master of pressure, this tactic can be risky for him. If Olivia discovers what he has done, she'll probably cease trusting him, and that might lead her to review the entire document. To limit this risk, Donald might try the next tactic, Late Delivery.
- Late delivery
- When Donald sends Olivia the latest draft about 40 nanoseconds — or even an hour — before their next meeting, he might be trying to deprive her of any real opportunity to review it.When one negotiation partner
discovers a deception by
the other, Trust is threatened
- A reasonable response to Late Delivery is "We have to reschedule." Olivia can say, "I just received it, and I need to review it," but that does open her to Donald's feigning offense or using some other pressure tactic. Sometimes it's more fun just to say, "I have to water my begonias."
Perhaps the most powerfully deceptive tactic for drafters is Seizing the Drafting Role. If negotiations begin with Olivia sending Donald a draft agreement, he can respond by returning the agreement without citing any objections, but re-written to his own satisfaction. He has thus seized the drafting role without Olivia's consent, and without explaining what he has done to the agreement. Olivia can point this out, but he surely already knows. Since this tactic is a strong indication that the negotiation will be difficult, Olivia might consider her time better spent watering her begonias. First in this series Top Next Issue
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More articles on Ethics at Work:
- Non-Workplace Politics
- When we bring national or local political issues into the workplace — especially the divisive
issues — we risk disrupting our relationships, our projects, and the company itself.
- On Organizational Coups d'Etat
- If your boss is truly incompetent, or maybe even evil, organizing a coup d'etat might have crossed
your mind. In most cases, it's wise to let it cross on through, all the way. Think of alternative ways out.
- Extrasensory Deception: I
- Negotiation skills are increasingly essential in problem-solving workplaces. When incentives are strong,
or pressure is high, deception is tempting. Here are some of the deceptions popular among negotiators.
- Some Truths About Lies: IV
- Extended interviews provide multiple opportunities for detecting lies by people intent on deception.
Here's Part IV of our little collection of lie detection techniques.
- More Things I've Learned Along the Way
- Some entries from my personal collection of useful insights.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
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- Some working groups consist of experts from many fields. When they must reach a decision by consensus, members have several options. Defining those options in advance can help the group reach a decision with all its relationships intact. Available here and by RSS on July 8.
- And on July 15: Disjoint Concept Vocabularies
- In disputes or in problem solving sessions, when we can't seem to come to agreement, we often attribute the difficulty to miscommunication, histories of disagreements, hidden agendas, or "personality clashes." Sometimes the cause is much simpler. Sometimes the concept vocabularies of the parties don't overlap. Available here and by RSS on July 15.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
- Bullet Points: Mastery or Madness?
Decision-makers in modern organizations commonly demand briefings in the form of bullet points or a series of series of bullet points. But this form of presentation has limited value for complex decisions. We need something more. We actually need to think. Briefers who combine the bullet-point format with a variety of persuasion techniques can mislead decision-makers, guiding them into making poor decisions. Read more about this program.
Beware any resource that speaks of "winning" at workplace politics or "defeating" it. You can benefit or not, but there is no score-keeping, and it isn't a game.