Negotiation requires a level of skill in communication. The more complex the negotiation, the more skillful the communicator should be. As much as we speak during negotiation, it is important to remember that silence sometimes plays a huge role in the process.
If you’ve been in conversations where you feel the need to always fill every second because silence is awkward for you, it is time to practice silence.
In negotiation, silence can indicate a change of direction, contemplative thought, that you’re close to closure, or an imminent rejection of an idea. Silence can shift or strengthen the authority in the room, in that silence has the ability to move the conversation in a particular direction.
Leonardo da Vinci once said that “Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.”
When negotiating, silence should not be passive aggressive, manipulative, attention seeking, or full of anger; but it should represent “great authority under control.”
I can recall some of my first years as a litigator. An attorney once called me and was upset over something, which I can’t remember. I do recall that he proceeded to yell at me on the other end of the phone. I don’t know what he expected me to say, but what happened next changed the course of the way I relate to people, even today.
In the midst of his tirade, I simply spoke in a conversational tone and said, “I’m sorry that you are so upset,” and then I went silent.
What happened next surprised me. He hastily said, “I’m not upset.”
His tone had come down. He had been thrown off kilter by my even tone and then silence. He realized the authority in the conversation had shifted and that he appeared out of control. At that point, I realized the ability to shift power in a room by mere silence.
When we are in negotiation, silence used appropriately is a powerful tool in moving the conversation forward in the intended direction.
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CALL TO ACTION:
Be aware of opportunities this week to shift conversation with a moment of silence or to be comfortable in silence, not feeling you have to rush in and fill in conversation because silence makes you uncomfortable.
Think about the next potential client you speak with, especially when it comes to dollars. When the prospect hesitates, do you rush in to explain why you charge what you do, or do you start looking for ways to reduce your price because the silence made you uncomfortable, or do you sit confidently in the silence waiting for a response?
Get out of your head and into the moment. Ride the wave. Use silence to strengthen your authority.