What is the best negotiating strategy? Never bluff, always tell the truth, and have the facts, and keep the possibility in your mind that you could be wrong. The same is true of life in general.
If you always tell the truth, life is so much easier and you always have the confidence that comes with moral integrity. In other words you don’t have to worry about your “tells” if you are telling the truth; your integrity, sincerity, and confidence in your position will be transparent to everyone else. What better negotiating position is there than that when you are dealing with a business partner? What better relational position is there than that when interacting with anyone in your life.
And it is so much easier to remember the truth. When you start to tell different stories it becomes too much to keep track of. Isn’t life complex enough already? Isn’t your life interesting enough and challenging enough already? And lies are never as convincing as the truth; the truth is natural and spontaneous and it shows through in the moral confidence that comes with the integrity of being transparent.
And if you always tell the truth then you never have to bluff. Why bluff? You only bluff when you are in a position of weakness. But if you are then either change the playing field or yield to the stronger position. Save your credibility, integrity, and strength for another day when you have the stronger negotiating position. Your opponents will respect you much more for having the integrity to know when to fold and for treating them with the respect that comes with acknowledging a stronger position. Your basis for future negotiations will only be solidified.
For once you bluff, or lie, you are always a liar. People remember that and then you lose all credibility. Always negotiate from strength and always keep your integrity in tact.
How do you negotiate from strength? There are no tricks or secrets. Just have the facts and always stick to them. Don’t exaggerate or overstate them. Many negotiations end in frustration and loss of integrity because we argue over opinions rather than facts. If you have the facts, you can keep opinions and emotions to a minimum.
The same is true in life. When you are confronted with a difficult situation stick to the facts as much as possible; focus on the facts and not on hearsay or opinions or personal judgments, and be as unbiased as possible in assessing the facts. If you are wrong, admit that you are wrong based on the facts. This is incredibly powerful: to admit your fault when you have made a mistake or when you are presented with new information that changes your position on something.
Commit yourself to knowing the truth and not to defending your position. Let go of the need to be right and accept the possibility that you could be wrong. It is said that “the ability to hold two competing thoughts in one's mind and still be able to function is the mark of a superior mind” (Fitzgerald, 1956). If you open yourself up to the possibility that you are wrong you become a much better listener…and listening is the key to negotiating and to life.
Stick to the truth, negotiate with the facts, and listen with an open mind.