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A qualitative study on the experiences and strategies used by French professional negotiators to detect deception

Frieder Lempp (Department of People, Organizations and Negotiation, IESEG School of Management – Paris Campus, Paris la Defense, France)
Maïs Testa (Department of People, Organizations and Negotiation, IESEG School of Management – Paris Campus, Paris la Defense, France)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 20 June 2022

Issue publication date: 26 September 2022

325

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to explore the views of practicing negotiators on their experiences of deception and their strategies for detecting deceptive behavior. A thematic analysis of interview data complements the existing experimental literature on deception and negotiation. The authors compare the experiences of practicing negotiators with the results found in experimental studies and provide practical recommendations for negotiators and managers regarding the detection of deception.

Design/methodology/approach

Data was collected from 19 practicing commercial negotiators in France by way of semi-structured interviews. The transcribed data was analyzed by way of thematic analysis using the software NVivo 12. Experiences and behaviors identified in the negotiation literature as key factors for the detection of deception acted as a coding framework.

Findings

A thematic analysis of the data revealed four themes related to the experience of deception that negotiators perceived as particularly important: the frequency, form, interpretation and consequences of deception. Further, the analysis revealed four factors that negotiators believed influenced their ability to detect deceptive communication: physical cues, such as body language and micro-expressions, and verbal cues, including contradictions and inconsistencies, emotional cues and environmental cues. Finally, the strategies described by negotiators to detect deception could be classified according to six themes: careful listening, asking questions, emotional intelligence, intuition, checking consistency and requesting evidence.

Research limitations/implications

This study elicited the views of commercial negotiators without collecting information from their negotiation counterparts. Hence, it was not possible to verify whether the reported detection of deceptive communication was accurate. Because of optimism bias, the participants in the sample were likely to overrate their ability to detect deception. In part, this was helpful because the negotiators spoke freely about their strategies for dealing with deceptive counterparts allowing the identification of techniques to improve the efficacy of detecting deceptive communication.

Practical implications

Participants overwhelmingly expressed that there is a lack of training on deception in negotiation. It is suggested that the results of this study inform the development of training courses on the detection of deception. In particular, it is recommended that training courses should cover the following topics: how to anticipate and avoid deceptive behavior; how to effectively respond to deceptive behavior; the role of emotional intelligence in detecting deceptive behavior; careful listening and asking questions; and the role of intuition in detecting deception.

Originality/value

Prior empirical studies on the detection of deception have not specifically investigated the range of self-reported strategies used by practicing negotiators to detect deceptive communication. This study addresses this gap. This study complements existing experimental works by widening the spectrum of potential variables that play a role in the effective detection of deceptive communication.

Keywords

Citation

Lempp, F. and Testa, M. (2022), "A qualitative study on the experiences and strategies used by French professional negotiators to detect deception", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 882-908. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-02-2022-0039

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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