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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Why Ethical People Become Unethical Negotiators

Dina Gerdeman
Forbes.com
Originally posted July 31, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

With profit and greed driving the desire to deceive, it’s not surprising that negotiators often act unethically. But it’s too simplistic to think people always enter a negotiation looking to dupe the other side.

Sometimes negotiators stretch the truth unintentionally, falling prey to what Bazerman and his colleagues call “bounded ethicality” by engaging in unethical behavior that contradicts their values without knowing it.

Why does this happen? In the heat of negotiations, “ethical fading” comes into play, and people are unable to see the ethical implications of their actions because their desire to win gets in the way. The end result is deception.

In business, with dollars at stake, many people will interpret situations in ways that naturally favor them. Take Bazerman’s former dentist, who always seemed too quick to drill. “He was overtreating my mouth, and it didn’t make sense,” he says.

In service professions, he explains, people often have conflicts of interest. For instance, a surgeon may believe that surgery is the proper course of action, but her perception is biased: She has an incentive and makes money off the decision to operate. Another surgeon might just as easily come to the conclusion that if it’s not bothering you, don’t operate. “Lawyers are affected by how long a case takes to settle,” he adds. “

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