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Fair Enough

To be a better negotiator, learn to tell the difference between a lie and <i>a lie</i>.

This story appears in the January 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

No one really likes to think about how much lying goes on at the bargaining table. Of course not-it's troubling. On the one hand, we aspire to principled negotiation, win-win solutions and civility with our opponents. On the other, our whole notion of negotiation is built on ethical quicksand: To succeed, you must deceive.

I'm not talking about the obvious cases, such as the bald lie. Those we all condemn, and in fact, our courts provide remedies for them-albeit slow, aggravating, inconsistent and expensive ones. To me, it's the little lies, the omissions and evasions, that are more curious.

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