Negotiating Tips , Business Negotiation , Negotiation Tactics August 26, 2011

Dealing with Trial Balloons and Information Leaks

Not every negotiator is ethical and upfront. At times, some businesses (and governments or organizations) try to influence the outcome of a negotiation by issuing erroneous information or rumors...

Not every negotiator is ethical and upfront. At times, some businesses (and governments or organizations) try to influence the outcome of a negotiation by issuing erroneous information or rumors.

Trial balloons are used most frequently by politicians who leak a rumored policy change to gauge public reaction. Essentially, it is a way of testing the waters.

In negotiation, some people use trial ballo0ns, rumors and price drops as a way of sending messages to the other party. This method of “grapevine” communications provides a way to save face without losing any bargaining leverage.

What do you do with information you hear through the grapevine?

Negotiators must be on guard against the rumor mill, false information leaks and trial balloons—understanding that these may be used as tactics. Here are a few counter tactics:

  • Test any suspect information.

  • Be wary of information that was acquired too easily

  • Realize that trial balloons and rumors are a way to confuse you and to weaken your resolve

  • Understand that grapevine information can be used as a way to communicate indirectly


How do you deal with rumors, trial balloons and information leaks? Tell us in the comments.
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