“Speech is silver, but silence is golden” is a fitting quote to describe one of the most powerful tactics in negotiation, which is, well, silence. One of the key aspects of negotiation is that both parties need a “footing” for a negotiation to take place. To find if the other person’s footing is really solid as they would like you to believe, you need to be silent.
Silence is an effective way to gauge the other person’s confidence in their position. Many people are uncomfortable with silence and will often fill the air with meaningless talk. On the other hand, silence, when used in negotiation, always requires a response.
How Silence in Negotiation Works?
To better understand how silence can give you leverage in negotiation, let’s use a scenario.
Let’s assume an outbound sales agent negotiating with a client via the phone. The call was going well when suddenly it came to a screeching halt. The sales agent had proposed a sales deal and rather than a quick response, the client didn’t respond.
Faced with silence from the other end of the line, this sales agent had a decision to make. This deadlock situation can only be broken by speaking first and taking back the proposal, or the agent could hold his/her ground and wait as long as it took for the other side to respond. Choosing the latter, the agent waited long enough so that the other party would crack first. Finally, after a long pause, the client responded, eventually agreeing to the proposed deal.
Right Proposition + Silence: Success
As negotiators, we can’t deny the fact that our words are our greatest weapon to tip the balance to our advantage. We communicate our position through words, argue with words, and move our way through the negotiation phase using words. The words never seem to stop coming.
However, if a period of silence shows up during negotiation, both sides tend to feel uncomfortable and restless. We simply don’t know what to do with it. But if you start seeing silence as a tool, you will be able to turn the negotiation tables in your favor.
When a period of silence happens, the other person will start to talk again hoping to win the upper-hand with their unrelenting talks. The result of this talking is that they may end up revealing too much or even backtracking to their original position.
In negotiations that take place in real world, you need to learn to look calm and confident. Smile at the other party, review your notes and stay engaged through body language and body contact. At some point, the other party may have no choice but to buy some time and go somewhere else for a while to focus. Whatever their choice, give silence a chance.
And if the roles are reversed you have the right to be silent. Instead of striking back with a half-baked, badly thought through an answer, learn to be comfortable with silence. “I’m thinking this through”, “I’d like to explore this idea, give me a minute” or “I’ll get back to you.” will help buy you time.
Use a Coach to Refine Your Silence in Negotiation
Silence has to be practiced and refined in negotiation training. Training helps you measure your adeptness to silence; then develop the skills to use it subtly and effectively through role plays and critical incidents. Negotiation training is the best way to simulate situations and develop awareness, confidence, and mechanisms for handling silence.
Learning to stay silent is easy to use tactic and can be the most powerful tool when used right in the hands of a skilled negotiator. Remember: The less you talk, the deeper, enigmatic and powerful you look.
To learn more negotiation strategies, contact Healthy Business Builder today at 1300-833-574.