“Fake news” has destroyed our ability to talk to each other, and I’m sick of it. Once exploited as a money-making scheme by Macedonian teenagers (I’m not kidding; read this), it was turned into a political weapon and is now laced into the fabric of nearly every conversation that we have. The idea of “fake news” has permeated what we believe and don’t believe, to the point that we’re arguing with family members, dear friends, and even science! We’ve gone insane, and it’s making how we negotiate even more difficult.
“Fake news” is a symptom of a bigger problem — the ability for us to have our own facts. Somewhere along the way, we decided that the facts we all knew were no longer reliable and we needed our own set of facts (this is how you can get into a debate that 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 4!).
Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” He articulated something that we all knew and, in the years since, have believed to be true . . . until recently. Now, we believe that “everyone is entitled to their own opinion and facts.” Let me just say this: no, we’re not!
Merriam-Webster defines a fact as “a piece of information presented as having objective reality.” Herein lies the problem: We’ve allowed objectivity to be replaced by subjectivity.
The reason this makes negotiating more difficult is that you not only have to discern between opinion and fact, but you also have to assess the subjective reality of the facts presented. Failure to do so can lead to misunderstandings, bad assumptions, incongruent narratives, and a general lack of alignment. However, the reality is that you’ll probably run into situations in which their facts are different from your facts. So, what do you do?
While you might be tempted to scream, “Fake news!” I would do something different:
- Keep your composure. It can be really frustrating when the other side just doesn’t see the facts the same way that you do. But don’t let that get to you or throw you off your game. You may not be able to control their interpretation of the facts, but you can control your reaction. Stay calm, so that you can make rational decisions.
- Make agreements contingent on the truth. At some point, either your facts or their facts will be proven to be true. Therefore, if any of your agreements are based on these subjective facts, give yourself the ability to change direction when the truth prevails. You don’t want to be stuck holding the bag when reality sets in and the truth is discovered.
- Future-proof the facts. One of the variables you can use in your negotiation is whose facts you go with. If it’s really important to you that everyone uses your facts, then trade for that. That way, your negotiation and all future ones concerning this matter will be based on the facts you want.
I have a feeling that we’ll be stuck with “fake news” for some time. In the meantime, be sure to research, refer to credible sources, and fact-check. If we all do a little more of that, then we can lessen the impact of subjective facts. (OK, I’m off the soapbox now.)
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The “fake news” that’s permeated our culture has made negotiating more difficult. You not only have to discern between opinion and fact, but you also have to assess the subjective reality of the facts presented. Failure to do so can lead to misunderstandings, bad assumptions, incongruent narratives, and a general lack of alignment. We can help! Drawing on 46 years of real-world negotiating experience, we’ll assist you with getting better deals, saving time, and creating value for all involved — not to mention preserving and even strengthening relationships. Let us partner you with one of our advisers, ensuring that you’ve got the broadest view of your deal.