Ethics in Negotiation
A negotiation is a situation in which two or more people are involved in a conversation, trying to reach an agreement about an exchange, distribution of benefits or job roles. Negotiations also result in other accepting the information that they are provided with therefore ethics are the firsthand priority in negotiations. Some negotiators believe that they can get away with lying to acquire the most, but some do believe that cheating can cost their credibility. An ethical negotiation is the one which is clean from any kind of deception.
Deception is an act which fortifies a false conception of the other party either through lying or through the omission of important information. It is not necessary that only through verbal actions one can deceive people but deception also comprises of instances when through non- verbal actions a false conception can be strengthened. Deceiving acts are those acts which makes a false belief stronger but not those which do not fortifies a wrong conception. Steven P. Cohen The success of negotiation lies to a great extent on the quality of the information exchanged.
There can be ethical lapses in the information that is provided by the party participating in the negotiation. Ethical Lapse
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• Deception: statements by negotiator can include false promises or even false threats, excessive demand, misinterpreting the facts, or demanding for concessions that are not needed. • Weakening the opponent: eliminating the opponent’s alternatives, undermining them in one or the other way, blaming the opponent which reduces his confidence level, using abrasive statements for the opponent or even with him. • Strengthening one’s own position: this tactic uses alliances, expertise and building up one’s resources.
It also includes using persuasive facts which makes the negotiator look stronger, such as misuse of the media and using an authority for one’s position. • Nondisclosure: includes disclosing the facts partially and not completely, not disclosing a hidden fact, fortifying opponent’s misperception, and concealing one’s own actual position. • Information exploitation: any important information provided by the opponent can also be used to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses, creating demands against the opponent and weakening its group.
• Change of mind: it means behaving which was not predicted which includes changing decisions at the last moment, accepting other parties’ offers which were claimed not to be accepted, change in demands and conditions, denying the promises that were made before. • Distraction: distracting acts or statements can be quite simple but they could leave a huge impact. Providing excessive information so that opponents start suffering from information overload, asking too many questions, interrupting opponent’s questions, try to hide the issue that could put negotiators at a disadvantage.
It could also lead to complex actions such as shamming one weakness to such an extent that opponents start concentrating on it and are left with no time to observe other weaknesses. • Maximization: includes making demands that put opponent at a disadvantage and demanding concessions that maximize negotiator’s profits but leads to opponent’s loss. It also includes changing the position from win-win situation to win-lose situation. Reitz, H. Joseph Deception is done by the people during negotiations so as to benefit themselves and purely for their own self interest.
Self interest is something which gives the deceiving party the maximum benefit, which no other action can provide. Self- interest actions are self- centered actions which are usually material focused; they are performed to maximize the welfare at the personal level. Such self centered actions, which are deceiving, are unethical during the negotiation which harms the other party. People with low self conscience do not feel guilty after being unethical in the negotiation and they enjoy making fool out of other people.
Such people also do not share any religious beliefs which help them in differentiating lawful from unlawful acts. People tend to forget ethics in the negotiation when they are highly motivated towards their personal well-being. Self interest motives are omnipotent in people who are negotiating for their personal business but in conscience people, who believe in being ethical; such motives do not play a powerful role. Some people can also be indifferent towards their personal benefit especially when they are negotiating on behalf of some organization.
Ethical norms in negotiation are usually broken due to opportunism or desperation. When it becomes too hard for the party to let go of an opportunity, they lead the unethical path. Desperation arises when a party wants to spare itself from any kind of loss. Such situations can be really tempting and therefore could astray a party from the ethical way of dealing. In other words it could also be said that the members belonging to such parties face the problem of weakness of the will.
Any individual, no matter what his background is, can fall for such temptations which bound him to compromise on ethical norms. They are myriad chances that we come across such negotiators who believe that concealing the true information from the opponent party are the true elements of negotiation, therefore they would mislead their opponent at every possible chance. But there are others as well who believe that even if the deception is unnoticeable, it can be costly.
Once the negotiator loses his reputation, it is difficult to gain it back which could lead to an immense hindrance in the future business deals. During the negotiation process it is likely that one party would have information to a greater extent than the other party. For example if a party is selling a second hand good to a potential buyer, it is the selling party who would know the exact information about the good and not the buyer, that is the seller would know the flaws of the good. It would be the seller’s choice to deal the negotiation through ethical means or not.
If the seller portrays the good as a flawless object he could sell it at higher price but it would be an unethical way of carrying out a negotiation. The higher the quality of the good being sold, the higher the price the buyer would be willing to pay. Such situations can be really tempting for the seller to use some aspect of deception. But on the other hand if the other party in the negotiation, that is the buyer, is smart, he would notice the incentive the seller would have to cheat. That could lead distrustful situation among the two parties.
Even if the seller is being honest about the quality of the good, it would be difficult for the buyer to believe his words. The buyer not believing the statement of the seller would only be willing to pay low quality price and it would lead the seller to produce low quality good, it is like a viscous cycle. Even if the buyer and the seller were better off at producing high quality good and paying high quality price, they would be at disadvantage due to the distrust borne in the negotiation. Peter C. Cramton and J. Gregory Dees. Conditions which can make deception more likely are when:
• The party is at far greater advantage by deceiving or cheating than by dealing the negotiation with honesty. • The information provided by the party and the actual information cannot be compared. • It is difficult to judge the intentions of the party involved in the negotiation. • Verification of the facts of the provided by the party is hard due to lack of resources to protecting oneself from falling for deception. • The parties do not meet often and their interaction is infrequent. • In case deception is discovered, the compensation is difficult to take place.
• The history of the reputation of the party involved in the negotiation is not available, or it is arduous to acquire. Culture at Work. There are several reasons for negotiators to amiss the ethical of dealing during the negotiation. The most common reason of deception is to maximize the profits; the temptation of gaining money through little or large deception can compel the negotiators to adopt unethical ways. Sometimes external pressure, either professional or personal, can blend unethical element in the negotiations, such promotion in the office or personal financial situation.
Competition from other companies is another reason of deception, to make your company move ahead from its competitors through unethical means can make a company look like a successful one. If negotiation gives a party an immediate profitable return then the parties do get tempted to achieve that return even if they cannot acquire it through ethical means. Past experiences of deceiving in the negotiation and achieving the desired outcome, can motivate the same party to carry out the act of deception once again and this goes on and on.
They start enjoying the acquirement of quested result through unethical motives. Radu Ionescu As an opponent party one can get the hint of deception if the other party is providing with some ambiguous points or there is uncertainty in their discussion. If there is lack of commitment from the other party then it could be likely that it is involved in some deceiving acts. Even a little unwillingness by the party to provide complete or important part of information should alert the opponents because there are high chances of unethical motives involved in the negotiation.
If a party fails to verify any kind of information that is provided by it, then that information cannot be classified as free from deception. Conflicting verbal and non-verbal actions should put the opponent on guard. Defending once stance to an extent that seems odd, aggressiveness during negotiation and competing with other parties when it is not essential, can be due to the fact that the negotiator is trying to curtail the deception involved in the negotiation. William Freivogel