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Lying in Negotiations Must Be Confronted and Managed!

“You lie!” Representative Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican who gained a measure of infamy after shouting “you lie” at President Barack Obama during a joint session of Congress in 2009.

Comment:  How would things have been different had Obama been brave enough to order the immediate removal of Wilson?

2023 “Liar! U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) yelled 'liar' multiple times at President Joe Biden during the State of the Union Address on February 7, 2023. Biden was criticizing some Republicans he said want to sunset Medicare and Social Security

2024 “Lies!” U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Prairie du Chein) shouted “lies” at President Joe Biden during the State of the Union speech.

Bad Liar, Imagine Dragons

So look me in the eyes,

ell me what you see…

But I'm a bad liar, bad liar,

Now you know,I'm a bad liar, bad liar,

Now you know, you're free to go….

You are lying. We don’t trust liars. We can’t live with liars. Liars must be destroyed.

-3 Body Problem, Netflix Series, 2024.


Most people are not accustomed to dealing with people who lie. During negotiations, they expect a certain modicum of exaggerating, bluffing, bragging, but not outright lying. Because most do not expect lying, many are not prepared to confront and manage the lying.

Distinguishing between name-calling and behavior.

Some may think that this is a distinction without a difference. In managing lying situations it is more helpful in problem solving to focus on the behavior of lying versus calling a person an epithet, “a liar.”

Continuum of honesty and dishonesty.

There are a lot of terms that come to play in this discussion, on this continuum of honesty.

Spinning the Narrative: Spinning the narrative means to use the same root facts as everyone else is using but emphasizing either the positive facts over the negative facts or emphasizing the negative facts over the positive ones. The basic truth remains the same but you spin the narrative to support your viewpoint. This is called biased reporting. Quora, Rikki DiLucchio, Former Teacher

Embellishment: Make (something) more attractive by the addition of decorative details or features.

Exaggeration:  A statement that represents something as better or worse than it really is.

Puffing: Puffing is a term in commercial law which means to convey an overstated belief about some good or service to a prospective buyer with the goal of making a sale of that good or service. Legal Information Institute, Cornell University

Bluffing: Deceive, fool, dupe, delude, hoodwink, mislead, trick.

Misleading: Giving the wrong idea or impression, deceptive, confusing, ambiguous.

Lying: If you engage in lying, you're fabricating, prevaricating, or speaking falsely. You are deliberately deviating from the truth. If lying is the act of telling a lie, then "lying through your teeth is the act of telling a bold lie, even if you know your listener will immediately know you're lying.

How Often Do People Lie?

According to Cross River Therapy:

  • On average, six lies are made to supervisors, partners, spouses, and workmates every day.

  • Every day, women tell three lies to their partners, supervisors, and co-workers.

  • Lying on a phone call during voice chat is 70% more likely to feature lies than a face-to-face chat.

  • 10% of all lies can be defined as exaggerations, though 60% of all lies are considered to be deceptive.

  • Every week, Americans tell 11 lies.

  • On CVs and resumes, 31% of people lie.

According to Ambitions ABA, people are more likely to lie electronically when they feel anonymous or protected by a screen. The average person tells about 1.65 lies per day.

Most people believe that they can detect lies.  Research shows otherwise, often a 50/50 chance. The key may be prevention rather than detection.


Teaching Honesty in Law School Negotiation Courses.

At The George Washington University School of Law, Professor Larry Ray presents two continua:

Honest <--> Dishonest

Open about information <--> Closed.

Ray asks all students to put their hash mark on each continuum as to where an effective negotiator falls. Most students will place their hash marks around the center. They are surprised by Ray’s guidance. Ray urges students to stop the singsong of open and honest; to separate these terms.

Ray urges that effective negotiators are honest. Honesty is part of their CHARACTER-part of their reputation. What is one reason that an effective negotiator is effective? They are honest.

In contrast, being open or closed about information is strategic. In the ideal negotiation, all negotiators are open about all information. Negotiations are rarely ideal. Whether one offers information or not is STRATEGIC. If negotiator A gives information, A expects negotiator B to also give information. Information is quid pro quo or a trade. If B does not share information, A does not share more information but instead, tries to discern why B is not trading information. Is the lack of sharing “a people issue;” that is, conflicting communication styles or conflicting personalities?  If this is so A needs to manage this people issue with people skills. On the other hand, if this is simply how B goes about negotiating, this will be a difficult negotiation.

Example One: Former President Donald Trump, a lying behavior.

Trump both as President and campaigner makes many untrue claims:  (TV MSNBC Mika Brzenksi calls his tactic, “the firehose of lies.“ So many that people are confused.  Former CNN Commentator Chris Cuomo calls Trump, “a lying hose.”)

  • The US economy was the best under his administration.

  • Crime is worse under the Biden administration than his.

  • Workers in the auto industry had it best under his administration.

Former US Department of Treasury Steve Radner using a series of charts contradicts with Facts all of his claims.

Trump continuously asserts false claims that US was energy independent during his presidency. The truth is that during Biden’s term the United States has become more energy independent than anytime since 1950 and is on track to hit a record high that would beat the production levels during Trump’s administration. 

CNN Politics: Contrary to claims from Trump and other Republicans, Biden has not “shut down” American energy: US crude oil production in Biden’s first year was higher than in each of Trump’s first two years….

Forbes.com2021 was our highest level of energy independence in history. In other words, we are even more energy independent than we were in 2019….

Trump accuses Morning Joe Scarborough of murder 12 times. His accusation focused on the death of JS, Florida staff person.  Of course, this was not true. The autopsy revealed that she had a heart condition and died during a fall.

Bill Maher of Real Time HBO often compares the barrage of Trump lies with the facts.  

  • Trump claims the price of bacon is 5x what it was when he was President. The reality is the price is up 20%.

  • Trump claims food prices are up 60%. They are up by 12%.

  • Trump claims inflation has never been higher, yet in 1984, (Morning in America-Ronald Reagan) inflation was 4.3%.

When applying for loans, Trump claimed his Trump Tower Penthouse is 30,000 square feet, but when he claims this place on his taxes, he states the real square footage at 11,000. This was one factor in his convicted fraud NY case by the NY Attorney General.

Ruby Garcia’s Family Says Trump Lied About Speaking to Them.

The family of Ruby Garcia, a 25-year-old woman who was murdered in Michigan last month, has accused Donald Trump of lying about having contact with them, and of using Garcia's death to villainize undocumented migrants. - Rolling Stone, April 2, 2024.

Trump Lies About Giving Monies to Veterans Instead of Debating, 11/7/2019

President Trump has come under scrutiny about his charitable foundation's use of funds. He has been ordered to pay $2 million in damages by a New York judge.

A New York judge has ruled that President Trump must pay $2 million in damages to settle claims that the Trump Foundation misused funds. The money will go to a group of charities and the foundation is in the process of dissolving.

The case is tied to a televised fundraiser for veterans held by Trump in Iowa when he was running for president in January 2016. Trump had said the funds raised would be distributed to charities. But according to court documents, the Trump Foundation improperly used $2.82 million it received from that fundraiser.

Example Two: Customer Service Representative, lying behavior.

Customer “A” needs an exemption from a governmental agency in order to afford items at a store. A completes all the necessary paperwork, is approved and given an identify confirmation number.

A then goes to the store and encounters Customer Service Representative “B.” B takes all the necessary information, B claimed that B submitted such and the claim was rejected. B instructs A of A’s further necessary action.

A re-contacts the government agency. A discovered that B was not qualified to submit the application, that they have no evidence that the application was submitted, and further that the business had not been certified by the agency, so no application would have been accepted.

Customer A had done everything perfectly and B most likely lied about submitting any application. Is this good customer service?  

Example Three: Negotiation Video-Sluggers Come Home, Stanford University.

Back to the negotiation class at GWU Law School, this 3-part video is played.  It is effective in demonstrating the negotiation stages of planning, bargaining, and reaching a resolution. They are negotiating many issues with the main one being the leasing price and duration of a newly renovated baseball stadium.

During this negotiation, all parties unnecessarily lie or maybe think it is bluffing or boasting.

B, the potential lessee claims that they have ten other alternatives. This is not supported by any research or reality.

A, the owner of the field and the potential lessor, claims that they have several alternatives.  A knows that they have only one alternative and it is not good; that is, leasing the stadium back to the city with no profits.

A, during the first phone negotiation call with B, declared he was busy. The video viewers who have the full story realize that B is not busy. B’s full time job is to get the stadium leased.

If A and B had done their homework, their research, they would have known each other was lying or not quite telling the truth. Some might call these insignificant lies that may not have affected the negotiation.

Example Five: Expelled former Congress Member George Santos from NY:   Former Congressmember Steve Israel declared in The Atlantic magazine that this shameful election of Santos was due to three reasons;

  • Democratic complacency

  • Republican extremism

  • Local media decline

Some say he merely followed in the footsteps of lying former President Trump.

Note that he won by 8% and flipped this district; albeit, 3 other nearby districts were flipped. Many politicians tout the intelligence of the voters, but a lot of research shows otherwise. The research shows that often people vote for the guy who is the tallest, has the most hair, or could be the better beer drinking buddy.  Research also shows the average voter is watching The Bachelor?

The central reason for this incredibly funny election is the essential theme of this blog.  People do not expect or know how to deal with pathological lying. Santos lied about:

  • His complete resume

  • His education and career

  • Jewish heritage

  • That employees of his died in the 2016 Pulse night club shooting

He has been expelled.  He is now charged with 13 indictments including wire fraud, lying to Congress, theft of public funds, etc.

When Does Misleading Become Lying?=

From CBS News:

Washington — Sen. Katie Britt, an Alabama Republican, has faced criticism in recent days for allegedly misleading comments made during her rebuttal to President Biden's State of the Union address last week, where she appeared to suggest that a horrific sex trafficking story had occurred during President Biden's time in office.


Britt shared the story of a woman she spoke with at the southern border, who Britt said was sex-trafficked by the cartels, recalling in graphic detail the story of the abuse of the then-12-year-old. 

"We wouldn't be OK with this happening in a third-world country," Britt said at the conclusion of the story. "This is the United States of America and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it. President Biden's border policies are a disgrace."

An independent journalist, Jonathan M Katz, first reported in a viral video that the story Britt recalled of the trafficking had actually occurred in Mexico during George W. Bush's presidency. Britt appeared to be telling the story of Karla Jacinto Romero, who has testified before Congress about being the victim of sex trafficking by Mexican cartels when she was 12. Britt and two other senators participated in a roundtable discussion with Jacinto and others during a visit to the southern border last year. 

According to NBC News:

The White House shot back at the Republican senator, accusing Britt of relying on “debunked lies” to attack Biden.

“Instead of telling more debunked lies to justify opposing the toughest bipartisan border legislation in modern history, Senator Britt should stop choosing human smugglers and fentanyl traffickers over our national security and the Border Patrol Union.”

Per The Fix, the Washington Post gave the Britt story “four Pinnochios.” The proper response would have been an immediate apology, but of course, with politicians, Britt double-downed worsening the situation and making it more memorable.

Escalating Intervention

During negotiation and problem-solving, lying must be managed. First, as an effective negotiator, one does not lie because that becomes part of one’s reputation. The real challenge is to deal with the lies of other negotiators.

  • Step One: Note, Ignore and Move On.

  • Step Two: Create Doubt. Ask Questions.

  • Step Three: Present Different Perspectives.

  • Step Four: Present Different Information.

  • Step Five: Describe the Contradictions.

  • Step Six: Request verification.

  • Step Seven: Confront to determine if other action is needed.

Distinguishing between unimportant and important lies:  This is the first step. Many lies are not that important and need no intervention. At the same time, if a negotiator tells these “White Lies” this should be noted, because it may be a character issue and may indicated that there is lying on other issues.  

All lies are not equal. An effective negotiator needs to be discerning.

For example, former President Bill Clinton (1998) was found guilty of lying under a grand jury oath in the case Jones v. Clinton. He lied about not having “a sexual relationship, affair or relations” with intern Monica Lewinsky. According to the Pew Research Center, only 22% thought this lie was important to the country.

Clinton’s lie can be distinguished from that of former Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDanie who not only helped spread Trump’s lie but sought to pressure officials in Michigan — her home state — to withhold certification of Biden’s victory there. Americans 54 - 42 percent think Trump should be prosecuted on criminal charges, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll, 2023.

Storytelling: Being the Star: Often in storytelling, the narrator casts themselves as “the Star.” This could be distinguished from lying or maybe it is.

Chat GPT 3.5: How does one respond to lying in a negotiation?

Responding to liars in a negotiation requires a delicate balance of assertiveness, diplomacy, and strategic thinking. Here are some approaches you can consider:

  1. Remain Calm and Collected: When confronted with lies, it's crucial to maintain your composure. Getting emotional or confrontational can escalate the situation and hinder productive negotiation.

  2. Focus on Facts and Evidence: If you can, gently steer the conversation towards objective facts or evidence that contradict the lies. Presenting concrete evidence can help expose the dishonesty without directly accusing the other party.

  3. Ask Clarifying Questions: Politely ask clarifying questions to give the other party an opportunity to correct their statements. Phrases like "Can you elaborate on that?" or "Could you explain how you reached that conclusion?" can subtly encourage honesty.

  4. Express Concerns: Express your concerns about discrepancies or inconsistencies in the information provided. Use non-confrontational language to convey that you're seeking clarity and understanding.

  5. Build Rapport: Sometimes, people lie due to fear, insecurity, or pressure. Building rapport and establishing trust can create a more conducive environment for honesty. Listen actively, show empathy, and demonstrate understanding of their perspective.

  6. Establish Boundaries: Clearly communicate your expectations for honesty and transparency in the negotiation process. Assert that integrity is essential for reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.

  7. Consider Consequences: Implicitly or explicitly communicate the potential consequences of dishonesty. Let the other party know that credibility and trustworthiness are critical for maintaining a long-term relationship or securing future deals.

  8. Seek Third-Party Verification: If possible, suggest involving a neutral third party or mediator to verify information or resolve disputes. A neutral party can provide an objective perspective and facilitate more honest communication.

  9. Evaluate Alternatives: Assess the impact of the lies on the negotiation and consider your alternatives. Depending on the severity of the deception, you may need to reconsider your negotiation strategy or explore other options.

  10. Maintain Flexibility: While it's essential to address dishonesty, remain flexible and open to finding solutions. Sometimes, acknowledging past deception and focusing on moving forward constructively can lead to a successful negotiation outcome.

Ultimately, how you respond to liars in a negotiation depends on the specific context, your relationship with the other party and your objectives. Strive to uphold your principles while navigating the negotiation process effectively.


Effective negotiators do not lie. They realize that being honest is part of their reputation.   They distinguish between being honest and being open about information which is strategic.

Most people and most negotiators have not been trained to manage lying during a negotiation. Nonetheless, lying must be managed using critical thinking skills as outlined above.

*The 1999 movie The Talented Mr. Ripley played by Matt Damon is on the minds of folks today in light of the new 2024 Netflix series "Ripley." Ripley is certainly an anti-hero, opportunist, grifter, a liar, a con artist to the gullibility of most others involved. Ripley hides in the “sea of strangers.” Ripley is a risk taker. Ripley exhibits high psychopathic traits of being detached and unemotional. In this movie and series, there is much lying in the negotiations including the sale of the sailboat.


See Recommended Books under “Blogs” drop down menu.   Clicking on any book will lead one to the discounted Amazon site.

Roy J. Lewicki is the author of 'Essentials of Negotiation', published 2015 under ISBN 9780077862466 and ISBN 0077862465.  Publisher: McGraw Hill Higher Education

The Conflict Resolution Training Program, Leader’s Manual,  ISBN:  0-7879-6077-2.  Prudence Bowman Kestner and Larry Ray

5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.


Getting Your Way Every Day.









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