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Importance of Trust in Negotiation 1

Importance of Trust in Negotiation

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Importance of Trust in Negotiation 2

Table of Contents
SUMMARY .................................................................................................................................... 3

INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................................... 4

Understanding Trust and Negotiation ............................................................................................. 6

Types of Trust and their Implication on Negotiation...................................................................... 8

Qualities of a Trustworthy Negotiator .......................................................................................... 10

Perceived Integrity .................................................................................................................... 10

Perceived Ability ...................................................................................................................... 11

Perceived Benevolence ............................................................................................................. 12


Independent Variable Concept of Trust .................................................................................... 12

Dependent Variable Concept of Trust ...................................................................................... 13

Intervening Moderator Concept of Trust .................................................................................. 14

Trust Management in Negotiation ............................................................................................ 14

Ways in which Trust can be Broken During a Negotiation Process ......................................... 17

Consequences of Broken Trust ................................................................................................. 20

Repairing Broken Trust............................................................................................................. 21

Research Gaps ............................................................................................................................... 24

References ..................................................................................................................................... 27
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 3


A basic concept of negotiation, which could easily be ignored or forgotten, is that it

involves dealing with human beings as opposed to abstract representatives. It is thus

unsurprising that a phenomenon such as trust should play such a significant part in an entire

process. The phenomenon is, however, broad and complex, and it is often defined in an abstract

such that its importance escapes the involved parties. In any legal negotiation process, trust

between legal representatives and clients is intrinsic. In most cases, parties get involved in

negotiation processes after understanding that they depend on each other to provide an aspect

such as the exchange of information and the inclination to implement an agreement. As a result

of this interdependence, trust or lack of it, develops between the parties. Thus, interdependence,

trust, distrust, and information sharing are essential and influence the overall success or failure of

any negotiation process. Considering its ambiguous nature, the need for trust in negotiation has

so far become one of the most discussed topics among legal professionals.

To understand the concept and the importance of trust in a negotiation process, one

should first evaluate the rationale of this factor and how it contributes to an effective negotiation

or how distrust detracts parties from the effective negotiation process. Many scholars have

examined the role of trust in negotiation and compiled data showing that trust is one of the most

central factors of negotiation. However, several studies have shown several gaps and challenges

that continue to affect factors that constitute to trust in negotiation. Lack of trust affects

negotiation process and results. To remedy this, scholars continue to conduct more research on

the subject, in a bid to find and implement effective strategies that will build trust among

negotiating parties.
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 4


When involved in a negotiation process, trust plays the role of a lubricant that influences

the entire process and a binding element that holds a deal together. Before the commencement of

a negotiation process or during the early deliberation process, the existence of strong trust can to

some extent abridge the negotiation process. In the beginning, involved parties evaluate the level

of trust between them and then develop a strategy based on the findings. The assessment can be

conducted by conversing with each other. In some cases, however, parties check out the

reputation of each other by contacting friends and associates. However, even if at the onset one

party judges the other as trustworthy, negotiators are advised to continue their assessment

throughout the negotiation progresses by observing a number signals and cues. Several questions

can help one to determine the level of trust exhibited by the other party. Examples include-

Is the opponent telling the truth?

Are they attempting to take advantage of the situation?

After the negotiation process is complete, will the other party follow through and uphold the

commitment they will have made?

Should formal agreements be made?

The indicated questions are vital, and the negotiator must monitor their responses throughout the


There are many ways in which trust can be used to simplify a negotiation process. For

starters, one of the most vital roles of a negotiation is the exchange of important information

among parties to arrive at or achieve specific results. To exchange information, trust becomes

integral in the sense that each party must be in a position to trust and believe the points,

statements, charges, and claims of the other party since they cannot verify everything.
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 5

Ultimately, trust in a negotiating process can reduce costs incurred in transactions when closing a

deal. When all parties trust each other, deals can be completed with a handshake as the level trust

created between the parties builds to create the belief that involved parties will hold to their part

of their bargain. Additionally, when exchanging information, the trustworthiness of the other

party becomes quite vital. For one party to be considered trustworthy, it must establish and

maintain high credibility levels. Normally, credibility depends on the notion that the information

passed from one party to the other is accurate as well as verifiable. Finally, after credibility has

been established, the negotiators honesty a reputation that is conveyed to all persons involved

in the negotiation process- is developed. Developing a credible reputation helps a negotiator to

maintain a constructive working relationship with all affiliations. As a result, deals can be

concluded without wasting too much time in the verification process. It is, therefore, vital for

negotiators to maintain a high level of trustworthiness as it ensures smooth negotiation processes.

To understand the logic behind trust especially in establishing and sustaining effective

negotiation processes, one should consider the alternative, that is, the effects of low trust levels

in such a process. As indicated, information acts a primary mode of exchange during negotiation.

When one party does not believe in the statements and arguments of the other, a vacuum of

doubt is created, which may negatively affect the negotiation process. Doubt might emanate

from the realization that one party has a bad reputation or from cues and signals of deception,

bluff, or exaggeration from one party. In such a situation, information must be confirmed and

verified by all parties involved in the negotiation process. One setback posed by lack of trust is

the fact that it may be impossible to verify every piece of information given by either party.

Additionally, the verification process may be tedious, complex, and time-consuming.

Importance of Trust in Negotiation 6

It should be noted that distrust in negotiation cannot be eliminated and deals should not

be consummated in the absence of proper documentation. To some extent, the presence of

distrust in a negotiation process is healthy as it ensures that individuals avoid losses and other

negative effects. Additionally, creating a memoranda of understanding ensures the

formalization of agreements and monitors compliance levels in other parties, which influences

the closing of agreements and deals. However, these extremes reinforce the fact that a

negotiation process can only be successful if the element of trust is included. Negotiators must

thus pay close attention to the factors that build trust and include them in negotiation processes.

Understanding Trust and Negotiation

Many scholars have through years provided varying definitions for the terms trust and

negotiation. Some scholars define trust a confident, positive expectation concerning the

conduct, intentions, and motives of other people. Other scholars focus more on the behavioral

traits of other people, and use the characterization of disposition of a party to become

vulnerable to the activities of another party centered on the anticipations that the other party shall

undertake an important activity to the trustor, regardless of ones aptitude to watch or control the

actions of another party1. Simply put, trust can be defined as a psychological state consisting of

the will to accept vulnerability depending on the expectations of the intentions of the other party.

Because negotiation and trust are characterized by the exemption of common classification of

trust and shortcomings of a construct, this definition is one of the most commonly accepted in

the current evolving field of literature. Negotiation can be defined as a process by which multiple

parties endeavor to resolve opposing interests. The role of trust in a negotiation process ascends

Yu-Te Tu, Trust Affecting on negotiation styles , 4 International Journal of Humanities and Social Science(2014),
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 7

as a result of each entitys interdependence with the other in trying to resolve opposing interests.

Negotiators involved in the process depend on the help of each other to achieve their goals and

objectives. They depend hugely on the data presented by the other side, the results that the

parties commit to, and the other party delivering the agreed upon results and commitment.

When focusing on this level of interdependence, negotiators must be ready to handle two

issues. The first issue is the dilemma of trust, which guides the negotiators to determine how

much they want to believe. If a negotiator trusts in everything presented by the other party, it

gives it the freedom to exploitation and deception. On the other hand, if a negotiator distrusts

everything presented by the other party, it becomes almost impossible for both parties to arrive at

a viable agreement. The second issue is the dilemma of honesty, which forces the negotiator to

question the capacity of the other party to tell the truth. On the one hand, if a negotiator is

completely truthful (discloses information such as personal preferences, walk-away points, and

preferred alternatives), then they lose their bargaining power2. On the other hand, if one party

discloses little or nothing about its interests and preferences, it then becomes impossible for the

opponent to understand the needs and wants of the negotiator, as well as how to structure the

terms, proposals, and offers in a way that ensures the parties achieve an agreement. Therefore,

for negotiators to arrive at a viable agreement, they must strategize on ways that can help to

navigate through these two dilemmas and to ensure the maximization of personal outcomes and

the achievement of an agreement that is acceptable by the involved parties. In cases where some

relationship existed before the negotiation, then the goal is to strengthen the relationship and

continue with the negotiations.

Roy J Lewicki & Beth Polin, Chapter 2: The role of trust in negotiation processes (2015), 32
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 8

When negotiators understand the trust dilemma, they should determine how much they

need to believe about the data, charges, and arguments presented by the other party. Factors,

such as the ability to verify the accuracy and the completeness of the provided information, cost

and time factors concerning the verification process, sufficiency or the insufficiency of the

information provided, the importance of the deal to both parties, and the level of trust existing

between both parties should be considered. On the other hand, when it comes to honesty

dilemma, negotiators must determine the quantity of information to share. Factors, such as the

needs of the other party, the kind of information that would expose the partys bargaining power

and how this might expose its vulnerability, the information that should be omitted or withheld,

the results of tabling all relevant information or withholding some, and the possibility of living

up to promises and commitments should be clear. As mentioned, trust is a vital ingredient that

holds a relationship together and, therefore, the results of dishonesty and high levels of distrust

endangers the entire process and further threatens the very existence of a relationship.

Types of Trust and their Implication on Negotiation

Many scholars argue that since negotiation is an ever-changing process of potent

exchange where parties strive to achieve better results at the end, trust is also an element of an

evolutionary nature3. Negotiators need at the very least to cultivate some basic level of trust.

Considered by many scholars as the minimum condition, this level of trust is known as

deterrence-based trust4. In this level, one party should be in a position to trust that the other party

will live up to its commitments and follow-through with agreed-upon promises. Since both

Roy J Lewicki & Beth Polin, Chapter 2: The role of trust in negotiation processes, 33
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 9

parties are expected to act in a certain manner (consistent), the deterrence-based trust is enforced

through penalties and other forms of punishment for broken promises or unfulfilled

commitments. To develop this type of trust even further, some scholars suggest calculus-based

trust as the most sensible name. It is further argued that at this level, factors such as trust and

the benefits of upholding the terms of the agreement are more grounded. Placing trust in

someone should be a calculated and rational choice. Traits such as meeting the set expectations,

keeping promises, and keeping a trustworthy and credible status are factors emanating from the

calculus-based trust. Scholars have further argued that this type of trust be maintained mainly if

there is a possibility of engagement in future transactions between the trustor and the trustee, if

the trustee has several transactions with the trustor, and if the trustor has more control over the

credibility of the trustee.

The second level of trust is advanced. Referred to as knowledge-based trust, this type

of trust emanates from the notion that one party can foretell, with utmost confidence, the

character traits of the other party. Knowledge-based accuracy is developed by obtaining

information pertinent to the other partys tendencies, motives, interests, intentions, and

preferences5. Scholars have revealed that this level of trust is built by maintaining consistency,

frequent communication between the parties, and learning about the perspectives, needs,

motives, and interests of the other party to effectively envisage their actions. One way of

monitoring knowledge-based trust is by regular verification and affirmation of the information

provided by the opponent.

Roy J Lewicki & Beth Polin Chapter 2: The role of trust in negotiation processes, 34
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 10

Lastly, if parties develop a solid positive relationship with each other, they are believed

to have an identification-based trust6. Scholars believe that this is the strongest form of trust,

and it is characterized by involved parties developing beneficial attractions and emotions towards

each other, as well as maintaining a high level of identification and developing the capacity to

represent the other in their absence. At this level, trust is extremely strong, and in some cases,

parties underestimate the need for traditional control. In the event of trust violations at this level,

the results could be disastrous and perhaps contribute to the generation of strong negative

feelings towards the trustee. While this level of trust tends to promote complete trust, it can also

create a dangerous trait of blindness. The accepted degree of distrust in negotiators is still an

element of debate.

Qualities of a Trustworthy Negotiator

For an individual or a party to be considered trustworthy, scholars argue that they

should pose several qualities that others can use to make judgments about their trustworthiness.

Research has shown that the factor of trustworthiness in a party can be judged using three

independent foundations namely perceived integrity, perceived benevolence, and perceived


Perceived Integrity

Looking at the dilemmas discussed earlier, integrity can be perceived as the most vital

concept of trustworthiness. The element of integrity can be defined as a series of behavioral

traits, for instance, speaking the truth, keeping promises, observing commitments, and keeping to

a set of professional principles that lead others to trust ones intentions and motivations.

Ibid., 34
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 11

Perceived Ability

The perceived ability can be demonstrated using three aspects of competence, that is 1)

possessing a wider coverage of knowledge of the discussion under context, 2) having the skills to

negotiate and conduct successful negotiation processes, and 3) possessing excellent negotiation

skills. To conduct effective negotiations, negotiators need to be well prepared (know what

needed) and be in a position to use and explain data, facts, logic, and arguments to prove and

support their case. To achieve this level of professionalism, negotiators must prepare before the

negotiation process commences, as this gives them the time to master important figures and facts

and develop a compelling argument to support their case. Negotiators must also demonstrate

enough understanding of the content under discussion/negotiation7. For instance, an attorney

hired to represent the labor union must understand the current issues facing the labor unions.

Lastly, a negotiators effectiveness is measured by how well they negotiate. Their expertise

may be judged through how they structure arguments, present vital data, ask required questions,

make helpful concessions, and make agreements that can be implemented and used by both

parties. Scholars maintain that negotiating with an experienced negotiator poses more benefits

compared to engaging an inexperienced person or party. In most cases, the pressure associated

with negotiation processes force inexperienced negotiators to behave erratically, make

concessions irrationally, and focus on unachievable goals all factors that contribute to loss of

trust. In contrast, experienced negotiators have higher chances of holding efficient negotiation

conversations that ensure both parties agree. Trust is created when negotiators portray rational,

predictable, and transparent character traits, and portray a deeper understanding of the

negotiation context as well as broad dynamics of the entire process.

Roy J Lewicki & Beth Polin Chapter 2: The role of trust in negotiation processes, 35
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 12

Perceived Benevolence

The concept of benevolence in negotiation relates to treating the other party with

goodness and kindness. Benevolence is more of the actions that influence the dimensions of trust

between the parties. Treating the other party with courtesy, respecting their position, as well as

the legitimacy of their opinions, listening carefully, and acting professionally when disagreeing

with their point of view all work together to portray the concept of humanity. Benevolence is

also portrayed by showing that one party cares about the interests of the other party and is

willing to help meet those interests. In most cases, negotiators focus more on the interests of one

party and completely neglect the other. A benevolent negotiator recognizes the opportunities

presented by arriving at an agreement that benefits both parties. In addition, practicing

benevolence builds a reputation and gives both parties a chance to work together in the future.


Research on the importance of trust in negotiation is extremely wanting. Even with its

importance to negotiation, not many scholars have investigated the overall role of the element of

trust. However, existing literature shows trust as a vital element that can be discussed in three

categories, that is, dependent, independent, and an intervening variable.

Independent Variable Concept of Trust

When looking at the independent variable of trust, one should focus on the three

components of negotiation, which is, sharing of information, turning point, and reciprocity. The

quintessence of negotiation is to convince the other party to consider aspects in a certain or

specific way. When parties introduce a lot of information during a negotiation process, it takes

the parties longer to arrive at a conclusion. Trust influences sharing of information, as it

Importance of Trust in Negotiation 13

influences parties to help each other to understand the interests of each other and learn more

about each others visions and missions as far as the results of the negotiation are concerned.

Scholars have examined the roles of trust by breaking it down to sub-components,

namely empathy, reliability, and predictability, and then studying the influence of these sub-

components on the negotiators. Studies have shown that relative trust is better at predicting the

outcomes of a negotiation process whereas absolute trust only predicts outcomes of ineffective

parties. When it comes to components of trust, studies have further shown that reliability is used

to help inefficient parties. Predictability affects low and moderate parties, whereas empathy helps

the low and most effective parties.

Dependent Variable Concept of Trust

Several studies have been conducted to examine the concept of trust as a dependent

variable. Some of these studies have investigated the characteristics of information sharing. If the

negotiation process involves sharing of information with the possibility of an integrative

solution, then the other party develops a higher level of trust. Other studies have examined the

influence medium of negotiation on trust. Negotiators who engage on online platforms report

lower levels of pre-trust and post-trust. Finally, studies have proved that the presence of

untrustworthy behaviors or concepts decreases trust between the parties8. In addition, the

inclusion of deception to an untrustworthy relationship makes it impossible to restore trust. After

the detection of an untrustworthy behavior during negotiation, most parties opt out of the entire

process. Trying to repair the trust, promises of change is as ineffective as starting a series of

trustworthy behaviors. The damage is caused by the fact that a promise is nothing more than a

Mara Olekalns & Philip L Smith, Negotiations and Trust , From The selected works of Mara Olekalns, 2012, 5
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 14

spoken word and may not have any weight in a negotiation process since parties are more

concerned with actions and actual implementation of the spoken words.

Intervening Moderator Concept of Trust

Additional studies have been conducted to determine how trust can be a considered an

intervening moderator. When studying the mediating power of trust, some scholars came to the

conclusion that anger greatly influences the levels of distrust in a negotiation process. It forces

negotiators to have high competitive goals and develop an extreme need to get a better deal

and have more power over the other party. On the other hand, trust helps negotiators to have

cooperative goals. Other scholars have examined how negotiators understand the concept of trust

in other parties. Trust leads to the emergence of insight, which is a dynamic resembling the

knowledge-based trust9. When scholars combined the study of trust, culture, and insight, and

their influence on negotiation, results showed that individuals were more inclined to trust parties

from specific cultures. Parties that do not trust each other tend to use offers and substantiations

as communication tactics to the other side, while negotiations with a high level of trust mostly

use questions and answers during negotiations.

Trust Management in Negotiation

Trust is one of the most important aspects of negotiation. Since it is a concept present in

all spheres of human life, its involvement in negotiation becomes almost inevitable. Negotiations

require involved parties to believe in the facts, arguments, conclusions, and promises arrived at

during the negotiation process. The success of a negotiation process mostly depends on the

parties ability to trust in the motives, interest, and actions of each other. Considering the role

played by this element in negotiations, it is imperative for the involved parties to understand its

Mara Olekalns & Philip L Smith, Negotiations and Trust , 3
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 15

fragility nature as well as the impossibility of repairing a broken trust and its implications on a

negotiation process10. To effectively understand this point, one should consider the factors or

challenges that hinder the development of trust in negotiations.

When discussing the hurdles that affect the development of trust, points are more focused

on the complex ways in which trust can be developed and effected in negotiation transactions.

The findings of this enigma center on the definition of communication, the communication

methods used, and finally how trust and negotiation link to produce successful or unsuccessful


To begin, scholars have argued that communication is a medium with the capacity to

influence the truth as well as the trusting trait during communication11. While the choice of

communication is greatly influenced by a series of factors, studies show that face-to-face

communication is more likely to promote trust since it possesses the element of personal rapport.

With this in mind, negotiating parties are in most cases advised to utilize this mode of

communication as involved parties are more likely to disclose truthful information. Additionally,

negotiation through written materials has a high chance of ending in an impasse compared to

face-to-face negotiation. The essence of verbal and non-verbal cues is connected to the reasoning

behind the results of communication methods since these cues exhibit trust or lack of it. Simply

put, it is easier for negotiators to determine the level of honesty between each other through face-

to-face communication. When a negotiator gives positive emotional signals that portray

cooperation, their non-verbal cues can be used as a foundation of trust. Therefore, negotiators

interested in developing trust should insist on face-to-face communication, as this will give them

Roy J Lewicki & Beth Polin Chapter 2: The role of trust in negotiation processes, 40
R E Fells, Developing Trust in negotiation, (2007), 40
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 16

the platform to show their positive and upbeat attitude and also judge the emotional state of their

counterparts. In addition, nonverbal cues exhibited by facial dynamics can influence ones

decision concerning the parties to involve in a cooperative exchange. According to

psychologists, individuals displaying an authentic smile and positive professional attitudes are in

most cases truthful, easy to work with, and trustworthy.

Different emotions generate differing dynamics of negotiation. When negotiating parties

focus solely on competitive-oriented goals, anger is more likely to occur and create high levels of

distrust. On the other hand, parties that utilize cooperatively oriented goals create a

compassionate environment and this increases trust levels. It should however be noted that

negotiators do not necessarily need to be compassionate to create effective levels of trust or to

get better agreement terms. Bargaining power and trustworthiness should work together to create

considerable levels of co-operation, terms of negotiation, and influence concession. A negotiator

should, therefore, be trustworthy by being clear and explicit on the expectations, and being able

to deliver on all commitments. Similarly, negotiators do not necessarily fail to build trust by

being tough on their bargaining power.

Events occurring before the commencement of a negotiation process play a vital role in

building and maintaining high trust levels. Scholars emphasize on the need for a good first

impression as it carries a lot of weight in influencing a negotiation process12. Trust violation

during the early stages of a negotiation process is more damaging than the one taking place

during the process, which means that maintaining a good impression at the beginning of a

relationship is advantageous. In addition, the events that follow the end of the negotiation also

influence the level of trust between the parties. Negotiators must follow through and deliver on

Mara Olekalns & Philip L Smith, Negotiations and Trust, 42
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 17

the promises made as per the agreement. The implementation of an agreement can be influenced

by verbal and emotional cues. In several studies, scholars have shown that promises can build

relationships and when these are strengthened by contingent agreement, it increases chances of

implementation of contract terms.

Another essential aspect of trust in negotiation is the level of trust congruence between

the negotiating parties. In this case, the concept of trust congruence does not necessarily mean

that parties have reciprocal trust. It, however, means that there is a presence of a symmetrical

trust existing between the parties. As explained by some scholars, the level of trust exhibited by

the trustee affects the behaviors of the trustor, and in the absence of trust congruence, then the

conduct between each other will differ and increase chances of misrepresentation. If parties share

a high level of trust congruence, scholars maintain that this will lead to joint-behavioral results.

On the other hand, when parties share high trust congruence but at low trust levels, then the

results will be low and extremely wanting.

Ways in which Trust can be Broken During a Negotiation Process

To effectively understand the factors that can lead to broken promises, one must first

understand the unique nature of a negotiation process, and how some actions that would break

negotiation outside negotiation can be allowed during a negotiation process. Examples of

commonly used negotiation tactics include intimidation and good cop/bad cop among others.

Outside a negotiation context, threatening or intimidating another party is mostly considered

illegal, unkind, and unethical. However, the rules change within a negotiation process. Scholars

argue that negotiation methods must be perceived along a range of ethically unacceptable to

morally appropriate, with some tactics falling between these two extremes, and thus being
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 18

rendered morally ambiguous13. Nevertheless, these tactics vary depending on the degree of the

societys ethical, legal, or prudence standards. Assuming that the use of ethically appropriate

tactics will build trust and the use of morally inappropriate traits will break it, the question that

negotiators should ask themselves at this point is, what are the morally ambiguous methods that

will limit or break trust during a negotiation process? Simply put, negotiators should be aware

of the acceptable level of ethical ambiguity within a negotiation context and what tactics can lead

to loss of deals.

In many cases, negotiators are forced by circumstances to include deception in a

negotiation process. As summarized by several scholars, the inclusion of deception within a

negotiation context allows parties to enhance their bargaining powers, that is, gain some leverage

over the other party by manipulating data to convince the other party of some truth that does not

exist. In other words, negotiators must use inappropriate resolution in the case of honesty

dilemma. Different negotiators confront this dilemma differently. While some consider risking

honesty to gain trust, others believe in exploiting the honesty element of the other party by being

deceptive and dishonest. Therefore, a dishonest negotiator uses the tactics perceived as

acceptable within the expectations of a normal negotiation process.

Another area of moral ambiguity is truth-telling. During a negotiation process, parties

engage in different versions of truth-telling including, exaggeration, bluffing, manipulation,

concealment, and lying since the information unknown to one party becomes vital and can be

used to achieve the interests one party. As such, deception serves several social objectives aimed

at helping the negotiator to maintain power. Deception can, therefore, be used to:

Misinform the other party to hide an objective

Lewicki & Beth Polin Chapter 2: The role of trust in negotiation processes, 42
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 19

Eliminate relevant choices for the other person.

Give the other party manipulated data pertaining benefits and costs emanating from the


Alter the level of uncertainty in the perceived outcomes of the negotiation.

Deception is useful, can also be considered moral and acceptable but only if the engaging

party understands, and can deal with the results of this action. The outcomes of deception can

tarnish ones reputation, and lead to loss of credibility and power. Business analysts argue that

negotiators must be willing to engage in morally ambiguous negotiation methods to increase the

potential of landing good deals. They must, however, be prepared to deal with the negative

aspects attracted by deception.

Apart from lying and truth-telling, there are several other tactics that can also be utilized

by negotiators. Research studies have revealed the existence of more morally appropriate as well

as inappropriate negotiation tactics. Methods, such as getting information by questioning those

close to the other party, demanding for higher numbers than what was hoped for, obscuring ones

bottom line, and using strategies that force the opponent to concede quickly are all considered

ethically appropriate. Negotiation methods, such as intentionally misrepresenting honest

information to the opponent to support ones position, getting information about the opponent

from other parties or subordinates, threatening the opponent to giving into ones demands, and

threatening to make an opponent to appear weak to other parties are all considered morally

inappropriate14. There are several refined categories of tactics that can be used by negotiators.

They include traditional competitive bargaining, threatening and attacking the opponents

network, misrepresentation, false promises, and unethical acquisition of information. Scholars

Gerard I Nierenberg, The Art of Negotiation, The Art of Negotiation, 3
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 20

argue that while these and other tactics can be used to the advantage of the negotiators,

traditional competitive bargaining remains the most appropriate form of a negotiation method.

However, each of the aforementioned can be used depending on the objectives of the negotiation.

Some scholars have gone further to advocate for emotional manipulation.

Manipulation is an ethical and prudently right negotiation method. Since it already exists

in other negotiation tactics, scholars maintain that it can be used to influence the direction of an

entire negotiation process. It should also be noted that while negotiators approve some of these

morally ambiguous negotiation tactics, they must weigh the implications of using dishonest

appropriate methods as well as dishonest inappropriate tactics. Unsurprisingly, the ability and

willingness to use these tactics also depend on different variables, for instance, situations and

personalities. The type of deception, the negotiators desire for power, expected levels of

trustworthiness, type of negotiation, situational variables involved in the negotiation, and the

scale of incentives at stake can all influence the use of deception during negotiation.

There are, therefore, several ways in which trust can be broken in a negotiation.

Deception, intentional misrepresentation of information, offering bribes, and threatening can lead

to the decline of trust and eventually affect the objectives of the entire process. However,

because negotiation context allows for traits that are judged under different classes assumptions

of right and wrong, these behaviors can positively or negatively influence a negotiation.

Consequences of Broken Trust

The overall effect of using deception in negotiation could either be short-term or long-

term. For the short-term effects, research has shown that if parties utilize the strategies of

deception carefully to avoid detection, several short-term benefits can be achieved. Several

studies show that negotiators who utilize the use of deception have higher chances of achieving
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 21

better outcomes compared to their opponents. The tactics advocated for in this case are the

omission of information or making false statements and the use of emotional manipulation.

Deception can also be used when the stakes are higher, and the negotiator knows that the

bargaining power of the other party is low.

However, when deception is detected by the opponent, the long-term results are believed

to be disastrous and can affect the future of the process15. Research shows that when deception is

discovered, the victim may not act retributively to punish the culprit. In addition, using deception

could also completely taint the image and the reputation of the negotiators. Usually, negotiators

believe that deception can be perceived as untruthful and untrustworthy, and can make one have

a difficult time finding a worthy party to negotiate with. Therefore, the short-term and the long-

term outcomes of deception and engaging in other untrustworthy negotiation tactics could pose

both positive and negative impacts to both parties. All morally questionable tactics, whether

simple or not, attract negative implications and eventually lead to lose of beneficial deals. It is

impossible to foretell with complete certainty how an opponent might react to the realization that

the other party is using deception. Negotiators can benefit from maintaining trust even when

faced with immoral tactics. A wise negotiator should have the skills to determine the tactics used

by the opponent by monitoring their actions and should question words and behaviors that seem


Repairing Broken Trust

Several scholars have investigated the concept of repairing a broken trust. While some

argue that it is almost impossible to repair a broken promise, studies show that even though it is

Roy J Lewicki & Beth Polin, Chapter 2: The role of trust in negotiation processes, 44
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 22

not an easy process, trust can be repaired16. However, several concepts are always in play in this

case and they both center around two questions. 1) Is it possible to effectively repair a broken

promise? and 2) how complex is the process of repairing broken trust? To answer these

questions, one must first address the nature of broken trust alongside its definition. Whether a

repaired trust is the same as a never-broken trust is still a matter of debate. To many scholars,

trust repair depends on the stage at which the trust was broken. Trust development is a complex

process, and the type of trust existing between two parties can be classified using the strength

and depth of that trust. The challenge of repairing a broken trust depends on what type of trust

was broken. Since the calculus-based trust is more focused on surface-based concepts, a broken

promise at this level may not pose any detrimental effects on the negotiations. At this stage,

parties have not invested in the relationship yet, and ending the relationship might not have

adverse effects on both parties17. Additionally, trust repair may not be necessary as both parties

can easily find opponents to deal with. If trust is still desired at this stage, it is still much easier to

achieve the desired levels of trust as long as the parties are willing to table their reasons for the

repair. A violation occurring at the knowledge-based is a bit more complex and almost

impossible to repair. A negotiation that is perceived as a simple episode or caused by

unavoidable circumstances should include both parties to work towards repairing their trust. If

not, they should address their perceptions concerning each other. If the victim considers the

actions of the violator as too extreme, then trust repair may be impossible. Finally, trust

violation at the identification-based trust is the most difficult to repair since it is not the

perception that is called in to question but the self-image and the identity of the culprit. The

Gerard I Nierenberg, The Art of Negotiation, 3
Roy J Lewicki & Beth Polin, Chapter 2: The role of trust in negotiation processes, 46
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 23

elements of psychological contracts between the involved parties are questioned. Additionally,

this type of trust takes a long time to cultivate, which makes broken promises at this stage

impossible to repair. The level of loyalty at this stage makes it impossible to repair trust after it

has been broken. Scholars maintain that additional research data is needed to understand

strategies that can be used to remedy broken trust at this stage.

The possibility of trust repair depends hugely on the type of violation. Negotiators must

consider factors such as was the violation intentional? If the primary intention of one party was

to deceive the other, then they must engage in questionable actions, including deception, the

omission of vital information, or the presentation of flawed data. Additionally, a violator may

decide to withdraw and thus fail to follow through with the commitments and the promises made

during the negotiation process. In this case, the reputation, image, and character of the violator

are questioned. If the victim views these actions as a normal part of the violators character and

fears their reoccurrence in the future, then trust repair becomes impossible and undesired.

However, if the victim views these traits as normal and unique to a specific situation, then trust

repair may be possible. However, both parties may need to work on restating the expectations as

well as changing the perception the victim may have towards the opponent. Trust repair is

greatly influenced by the perceived intention of the violation and how the victim links those

intentions to the opponent.

Negotiators must also understand that repair can only be possible if both the victim and

the violator have the will to work on a consensual trust repair process18. While it is obvious that

the violator should put more efforts towards the process, the victim should be willing to listen to

the verbal account, reparations offered by the opponent, and any arrangements implemented

Roy J Lewicki & Beth Polin, Chapter 2: The role of trust in negotiation processes, 46
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 24

towards the repair process. They must also be willing to acknowledge the offers made towards

the repair by pardoning the violator. Finally, the victims must be in a position to forgive

themselves if the violation highlights their shortcomings. Trust can be repaired. However, it

depends on the willingness of the violator and the victim to work through the repair process


Research Gaps

As mentioned, trust is a fundamental concept in any negotiation process. Negotiation is

more concerned with the exchange of information and efforts with the aim of persuading the

opponent(s). Each party must be in a position to trust the accuracy and verifiability of the

information presented in the negotiation process. In addition, negotiators must trust that both

parties will work towards keeping promises and any agreements made. Negotiators must also be

prepared to deal with issues such deception, dishonesty, have the skills to investigate and

authenticate any suspicious information or behaviors depicted by either party. However, trust is a

complex phenomenon, which is almost impossible to judge. Some individuals can deceive or

hide their actual intentions in a way that it is impossible to detect. In addition, establishing and

maintain high levels in a negotiation requires being truthful and honest even at the risk of losing

the bargaining position. Strangely, very few scholars have conducted research that shows the

policies that should be followed to test the level of honesty, truthfulness, and open-ness in

another party during a negotiation process. Sadly, the policies implemented from these few

studies are still faced by several shortcomings, further making it almost impossible to cultivate

and maintain considerable levels of trust among the parties. In addition, more questions

concerning the concept of trust in negotiation remain unanswered. Some of these questions

Importance of Trust in Negotiation 25

1) What personal differences influence the development of trust during a negotiation? Even

though several studies have investigated the influence of issues such as gender and age,

not much is known about their influence on negotiation. Since the aforementioned factors

have been known to influence other processes, it is essential to know and understand

what influence they may have on negotiators and what strategies may be used to limit

their negative effects (if any).

2) What are some strategies that can be used to deal with an untrustworthy party? What

policies can be used by negotiators to build trust when the opponent cannot reciprocate

especially in cases where complete withdrawal from the process is not an option?

Deception is a character trait that is present in all humans, and while some people

understand how to control it, this trait is very dominant in some people, which makes it

almost impossible to build any form of trust. When negotiating with such a party, the

element of trust becomes non-existent. There is thus a need for more studies that will

show the most effective strategies of negotiating with naturally deceitful people.

3) What level of trust (individual and reciprocal) is needed to conduct an effective

negotiation process? While the existence of a different level of trust is a phenomenon

understood by many negotiators, there is still the question of the most efficient trust

levels and the policies that should be implemented to ensure the growth and maintenance

of these levels through in a negotiation process.

4) Lastly, what direction should trust and negotiation take in the near future? One area that

could build the understanding of these constructs is the physiological responses

associated with the trust or lack of during a negotiation.

Importance of Trust in Negotiation 26

The element of trust is present in all aspects of human existents. Trust is needed for

growth and stability of individuals and societies, as well the peaceful co-existence of people

from different socio-economic settings. With this in mind, it is impossible for negotiators to

conduct an effective negotiation process in the absence of trust. During a negotiation process, it

is a tool that ensures that parties remain truthful, open, and honest in their spoken as well as

written word. Trust ensures that parties can discuss and agree on mutual terms aimed at

benefiting both parties. When conducting any deal, parties depend on the information provided

to draw terms of the negotiation and forecast on the expected benefits. However, the complexity

and vulnerability of this element make it almost to determine the level of honesty, truthfulness,

and openness in words and the information provided by opposing parties. There are several

strategies that negotiators use to quantify honesty in their opponents. However, while these

strategies influence the growth of trust, factors such as deception, lies, presentation of dishonest

data, and failure to keep promises have negative affects trust in negotiation. Depending on the

level of negotiation, broken trust is in some cases impossible to repair. In addition, broken trust

leads to bad relationships between parties, financial losses, and tainted perceptions and reduced

credibility levels. Individuals or parties perceived as untrustworthy usually have a hard time

finding opponents to negotiate and conduct deals with. Building or repairing a broken trust takes

time, and in some cases, parties decide to part ways in the event of a mistrust. However,

depending on the willingness and objectives of both parties, broken trust can be repaired.

However, the culprits have to work harder than the victims to build their credibility and convince

their opponents of their new agendas. The victims should be willing to forgive and trust their

opponents as well as forgive themselves for creating room for deceit and getting involved with

untrustworthy parties. It should, however, be noted that it is almost impossible to determine the
Importance of Trust in Negotiation 27

efficiency levels of repaired trust compared to the un-broken type of trust. While several scholars

have conducted extensive research on the essence of trust in negotiation, there is still more

questions and research gaps that need immediate attention. Considering the role trust plays in a

negotiation process, one can just hope that scholars will continue conducting research studies on

the subject.


Gerard I Nierenberg, The Art of Negotiation, THE ART OF NEGOTIATION.

Mara Olekalns & Philip L Smith, Negotiations and Trust , FROM THE SELECTED WORKS OF MARA


R E Fells, Developing Trust in negotiation, 3544 (2007).



Yu-Te Tu, Trust Affecting on negotiation styles , 4 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMANITIES