Silence: The Most Effective Negotiation Tool?

Silence: The Most Effective Negotiation Tool?

The ability to negotiate is definitely not one that’s inborn. Some develop it early on in childhood for a number of reasons ranging from being influenced by people they spend time with, capturing exciting opportunities, and for survival on the mean streets they live on.

Negotiation tactics need to be really solid in order to be successful in most areas of business, definitely sales and entrepreneurship. One of the most overlooked tools in the area of effective negotiation is the golden chalice of silence.

Silence can do things for you that words cannot. It can put a firm emphasis on important points you’re trying to get across. Silence can quickly shift a negotiation that isn’t going your way to one that you surely can’t lose. It denotes emotion, it shows others you’re listening to what they’re saying.

Silence may in fact be one of the most effective negotiation tools ever. In sales, we’ve all been taught to keep a conversation going, lest the other party use a moment of silence to make their getaway. When it comes to any form of conversation requiring persuasion, it’s just so hard to let an absence of sound in the room linger for too long.

silence is the key to effective negotiation

There’s often just so much riding on whatever negotiation you find yourself in currently, it’s hard to reign in your emotions and allow any quietude to take place. However, when you master the art of when to speak and when to hush yourself, a slew of benefits will wash over even the most intense negotiations you find yourself in throughout your career.

Increased respect from everyone in the room.

Those who pick and choose when to speak and when to listen definitely get more respect in group negotiation sessions. Everyone in the room is constantly analysing each other and wondering when that man or woman to their left or right is going to finally pipe up and say something. If you selectively choose to speak when you have a great point or clever retort to make, it will be much more impactful and you’ll be viewed as someone who demands respect because everything that comes from your mouth is viewed as pure wisdom.

Faster trust building.

There’s nothing worse than finding yourself in the middle of a negotiation with someone you know isn’t really listening to you. There’s no better way to show respect and gain trust from others by keeping your yap shut, listening, asking for clarification, and reiterating what the other person is saying when the moment’s right. Your silence can be very empowering to those you’re negotiating with — it makes them feel heard and will more than likely lead to them sharing more and better information with you earlier than they would have normally.

Emphasis on important points.

If you spend all your time blabbering on and on about the same point, or otherwise monopolising a group meeting, your message will never have a memorable impact. When you say something that you know is important, take a pause and look at the person sitting across from you, or scan the room if you’re in a group setting. Let the point linger, scan for looks of recognition from all in the room.

silence and the art of negotiation
Image Credit: Jaguar MENA/Flickr

Persuasion — ability to get better terms.

Imagine you’re sitting across the table from a decision maker at a firm you’ve been itching to lock down a multi-gazillion dollar deal with forever. They’ve made you a really excellent offer, with terms that could lead to expansion of your company and brand beyond your wildest dreams. How do you know they’ve given you their best and final? Few good negotiators ever lead with their bottom line, that’s just not good business. Let a little silence fill the room, maintain good eye contact, make them wonder what you’re thinking. You never know what a little moment of silence can do when it comes to closing a more lucrative deal.

Silence isn’t just good for effective negotiations either. It’s great for nurturing a sense of mindfulness and relaxation in all aspects of your life.

Often times, what you don’t say is much more powerful than that which you do. Embrace silence and the benefits are sure to follow.

Main Image Credit: Jaguar MENA/Flickr

Chad Stewart

Chad Stewart is a staff writer for who has worked in business for the better part of 16 years now. He got his start in the down-and-dirty world of intermodal logistics management, before moving into more challenging roles in retail and warehouse management. Chad holds both a Business Marketing and Operations Management degree from Sir Sandford Fleming College. In his spare time he enjoys traveling the world, time with his dog, fishing, snowshoeing, watching UFC and is an avid fitness buff.