Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Power of Silence

I love stories. I love allegories. I love "examples." So here's an example for you to think about that is somewhat crass but leads into deeper thoughts, so don't give up when you start reading.

Have you ever negotiated with a car salesman? Have you ever walked away from that negotiation knowing that you've "won"? That you have reached the optimal deal? Or is it an exasperating back and forth that makes you want to flee?

Many years ago, a sage associate gave me a piece of advice I'll never forget. He said, "Put your best deal forth and then shut up. Say nothing further." The salesman will keep talking and counter-offering, so say nothing. He will be uncomfortable and keep lowering his price. Say nothing until your goal is reached, and it will be if you keep quiet. Because the person who sits comfortably and stares at his or her "opponent" and says absolutely nothing holds the power in a negotiation.

Know Your Value and Keep Quiet

We are all accustomed to talking, and virtually talking ourselves into corners. We get defensive when we hear objections to our offerings. Take another example. When a client says, "You are expensive," smile and say "yes." And be comfortable with that response. You do not need to justify or defend, and you most certainly don't need to rush into lowering your price. Know your value and keep quiet.

So what happens when you don't talk? You listen. And by listening, you learn. Most of us deal with some degree of narcissism and thus keep talking, filling every empty space with the sound of our words, most of which are not needed. Business is not about monologues; it is about dialogues, and sharing information and communicating for mutual understanding. Do you agree?

How many times have you learned what your client wanted of you or what a vendor needed from you if you were talking "at" them instead of "with" them, eagerly listening to gather information?

Silence is a beautiful thing. Pay attention to it and see what benefits it reaps.

Action Item

During your next sales call, try it and let me know how it works out for you.


The Power of Silence in Business

Andrea Michaels is the founder and president of Extraordinary Events and the author of Reflections of a Successful Wallflower - Lessons in Business; Lessons in Life. She may be reached via

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