The Power of Silence

Published: Jun 20 , 2016
Author: Ben Byth

 

I was shopping for a new car recently and came across a second hand vehicle that seemed to fit the bill… So, I rang the seller and, after he had satisfactorily answered my questions, I sounded him out with, ‘Just suppose I could shuffle my diary around and drive over tomorrow, could you show me the car and would you be flexible on price?’.

This was met with an awkward silence. The seller wasn’t quite sure what to say (apart from ‘I can show you the car’). He protested by telling me how much he had already dropped the price, and umm’d and ahh’d. All the while I said nothing. My lips were sealed. 

After about 45 seconds of uncomfortable silence, the seller said ‘yes, I could be flexible on price’. I rewarded his signal of flexibility and probed for an idea of how flexible. The communication stalemate recommenced.

After another 30 seconds or so of no words shared, the seller dropped his price by $4,000. I said nothing, he dropped another $1,000… and shortly after, another $1,000, again.

In his excitement to have me view the car, and in order to overcome the awkward silence, he had been negotiating with himself. He had dropped $6,000 while I had said nothing.

Now, I’m not saying that this will solve all your problems… but recognise when you need to shut up and listen. Good things may come. 

“Never forget the power of silence, that massively disconcerting pause which goes on and on and may at last induce the opponent to babble and backtrack nervously." ~ Lance Morrow


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About the author:

Ben Byth
Ben’s background is in commercial business to business sales. Leveraging studies in organisational psychology, Ben’s previous role was responsible for growing Profiling Online’s bespoke leadership assessment business locally and abroad across industries such as Banking and Finance, Insurance, Travel, Engineering and Professional Services.

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