3 Reasons Why Silence in a Negotiation Works

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As the old adage goes, “Speech is silver, but silence is golden” is a pretty good way of describing one of the most powerful tactics in a negotiation.

Silence in a negotiation works.

That said, one of the key aspects of negotiation is that both parties need a “standing” for a negotiation to take place. And consequently, to find if the other person’s standing is really solid as they would like you to believe, you need to be silent.

Silence is a solid way to measure the other person’s confidence in their standing. It is staggering how many people feel so uncomfortable with silence. And as a result, will often fill the air with mindless chatter.

Why Silence in a Negotiation Works

We tend to think of silence as a negative response. We see them as a failure to move along the discussion and want to fill the quiet quickly.

However, when used properly and strategically, silence can be a great way to improve your negotiations

To better understand how silence in a negotiation works, let’s go through this scenario:

A salesperson is on a sales call. The call is going well when suddenly it comes to a screeching halt. The salesperson had proposed a sales deal. But, rather than a quick response, the client didn’t respond at all.

Faced with silence from the other end of the line, this particular salesperson is forced into making a decision. This deadlock situation can only be broken by speaking first and taking back the proposal perhaps. Or maybe the salesperson could hold their ground and wait as long as it took for the other side to respond.

Choosing the latter, the salesperson 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.


Learn these 3 Reasons Why Silence in a Negotiation Works and smash your next negotiation deal!

1. Right Words + 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 favour.

2. Calm + Silence = Success

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. There’s a reason that the descriptors “strong” and “silent” are often paired together.

It takes a confident person to calmly sit in silence in the face of a tough negotiation. Even if you don’t feel particularly confident, strategically choosing to employ silence in your negotiations can help get there.

Learn to Look Calm and Confident

In negotiations that take place in the 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.

The Right to be Silent

And if the roles are reversed you have the right to be silent. Instead of striking back with a half-baked, badly thought-through 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.

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3. Training + Silence = Success

Silence has to be practiced and refined in negotiation training.

Negotiation Training helps you measure your adeptness to silence. It also helps your team develop the skills to use silence subtly and effectively through role-plays and critical incidents.

The Less You Talk the Better the Chance of Success

Negotiation training is the best way to simulate situations and develop awareness, confidence, and mechanisms for handling silence. Learning to stay silent is an easy-to-use tactic once taught how. So, remember – the less you talk the better the chance of success.

To Book Your Team’s Tailored Master Negotiation Workshop

Gather the team and we will take care of the rest – learning and laughs included.

Call us at KONA on 1300 611 288 for a conversation, or email i[email protected] anytime.