Would I Lie to You?

Are you being lied to in negotiation?
Would I Lie to You?**

Are You Being Lied to in Your Negotiations?

The latest shocking news for women in negotiation is making the rounds lately, in Huffington Post, Daily Mail, Business Week and even Shape Magazine: UC Berkley professor Laura Kray’s latest research results show that women are lied to in negotiation more often than men.

Kray and her team worked outward from first establishing that a cultural stereotype that women are more easily misled puts them at greater risk for being deceived by misleading information or flat-out lies during negotiations.

The newsmakers glommed onto the big shocker:

WOMEN are equally likely as men to lie to another woman in negotiation

Yes. Women are just as susceptible as men are to perceiving other women as easy to mislead or lacking in competence. Sigh. Cultural stereotypes do indeed persist. Since the opposing stereotype about men persists (as already competent, not easily misled), Kray’s research also showed that  both men and women are more likely to help the guy out by letting him in on a secret.


Frankly I’m not sure if I am more shocked by the results, or that this is actually news to anyone. I think women have known this intuitively all along — and it is one among many reasons why many women don’t like or are afraid to negotiate. We don’t like or want to be taken advantage of. We don’t like it when our trust is violated.

Aside from the stereotype perceptions, there’s an obvious elephant in the room – that ANY negotiator who perceives the other person as easily misled will succumb to that temptation and lie, mislead or deceive to gain a better outcome. The ethics of lying in negotiation is a much bigger topic, debated and written about elsewhere (and a future topic for this blog).

Here’s the big risk for those who do lie: the long-term costs. We will never forget. We might never forgive. We may never trust you again. And we just might tell two friends.

“Watch me walking, walking out the door.”**

Marketers have really gotten this about women in the last decade. It’s time for negotiators to get it too. Lies, deceptions and misleading claims have long-term consequences  (and are sometimes illegal)– especially in business.

Until that happens – until the lies stop being the easy way to short-term victory and rewards — what can you do? What can you do to protect yourself in your negotiations? How can you TRUST anyone?

The good news is there is a lot you CAN do.

1. Test Now, Trust Later.

“Now would I say something that wasn’t true?”**

Trust is a tricky thing. You want to be able to trust others – to trust that what they say to you is true, that they will do what they say they will do. And there’s the rub – what you really want is what trust represents: predictability, reliability, a sure thing. You want to know it is REAL. Not a chimera or a desert mirage taunting you with promises to slake your thirst.

Trust yourself first – trust that niggling feeling that nags at you (aka your intuition). Don’t give in to self-doubt.

Test out what they are telling you, so you can trust them. Ask for proof, or verification of some kind. Clarify what you’ve heard them say and ask for confirmation that you got it.

Link to a third point for reference. Like the third leg on a 3-legged stool, the third point provides strength enough to stand on. A third point could be an outside standard or even a third party. “Let’s find out what Jamie thinks about this.”

What if they challenge you with “Don’t you trust me?” Try the power of “Yes, And”:

“I DO want to trust you, AND I want to understand you better. Help me understand how you …(e.g. arrived at that amount)”

2. Do Your Homework, First.


I heard that! And I’ll tell you a Secret: Forget diamonds, Homework is a Girl’s Best Friend.

You know it works: before every test in school, you did your homework. Right? You will be better able to test out a potential lie if you have prepared for your negotiation – or at minimum have prepared and practiced some stand-by phrases that you can use in any situation.

Get the facts, and find out what the general standards are. Most common example is a job or salary negotiation. Research broadly and narrowly — what are the standards in the industry? Find out what you can about the other party’s standards (as well as their closest competitor) – and remember to look at standards as they apply to both men AND women.

Develop your OWN standards: what are you willing to accept? Not accept? What is your Plan B? You do have one, right?

Doing your homework builds Trust and Confidence – in YOU! Trusting someone else is so much easier when you trust yourself, and trust your data, your facts, your value. When you feel like you won’t get pushed around or off your path. When you feel like you can stand your ground.

3. Test Again.

“Tell you straight, no intervention. To your face, no deception.”**

Every good researcher, including Laura Kray, tests and re-tests, before releasing their research results. So should you. Test, verify and confirm one last time before and after the final handshake. Try this:

“Let me confirm my understanding. You said….THIS…You will…THAT…I will…THAT. Is that your understanding too?”

This gives both of you an opportunity to clarify and correct any misunderstandings, before finalizing the agreement. Afterwards, the final test is to put it in writing. See my previous post for how to make this part simple, fast and easy.

The Bottom Line:

I found this quote to be the most telling of all. In quoting this reformed salesman from 1985 at the outset of the published paper, Kray and her team reveal the best defence to gendered mis-perceptions of women’s gullibility and (lack of) competence:

“… Salesmen … categorize people into ‘typical’ buyer categories. During my time as a salesman I termed the most common of these the ‘typically uninformed buyer’…. [In addition to their lack of information, these] buyers tended to display other common weaknesses. As a rule they were indecisive, wary, impulsive and, as a result, were easily misled. Now take a guess as to which gender of the species placed at the top of this ‘typically easy to mislead’ category? You guessed it—women.” (Parrish, 1985, p. 3, as quoted by Ayres & Siegelman, 1995)

Emphasis mine.

The bottom line for women?

Your best defence = PREPARATION. Get informed, do your homework, research, practice articulating it out loud. Believe in what you know. Trust yourself.

As Annie Lennox says:

“Believe me, I’ll make it make it!”**

**Would I Lie to You? Lyrics by Annie Lennox & Dave Stewart – Don’t mess with Annie!


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Carrie Gallant, JD is a ground-breaking thought leader who lights the way for conscious business women to stand up, stand out and stand firm.

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