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How to use silence in negotiations

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Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.

Over the next few months, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

107 Silence

People are generally uncomfortable with silence in social, personal and business settings. This is especially so in negotiations. They get nervous and will often say things to relieve the tension they are feeling. Sometimes they say things and make promises they would not make in the usual flow of conversation and negotiation.

One who is comfortable with silence, and capable of maintaining it in uncomfortable or tense moments and situations, has power in a negotiation. Maintaining a calm, mysterious, or ambiguous silence at key moments in a negotiation puts pressure on the other party. Not knowing how to interpret your silence, it may intimidate them, make them nervous or uncomfortable, or undermine their confidence in their position or their strategy. And this shifts the balance of power to you. Sometimes they may counter their own offer with an even better one before you’ve said a word.

So practice moments of silence when negotiating. Learn to be silent after making a pitch so it can be absorbed by the other party. Needless words, nervous chatter, or obvious statements during or following the pitch only dilute its power and make you seem less than strong and confident. Learn to be silent when the other party makes an unacceptable offer, letting it “hang in the air like a bad smell” before you respond. Learn to be silent after you’ve made your final offer or after you’ve “asked for the order”. Most sales trainings will teach you that the person who speaks next in such moments is likely to “lose” the negotiation.

Silence is a major asset of a great negotiator.


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