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Shh! How Silence Can Be Your Best Negotiation Technique

Declan Mulkeen

6 Apr 2016

We often put too much effort into what we want to say as opposed to what we want to achieve. Silence can be your best friend when speaking and your best negotiation technique.

Silence as a Negotiation Technique 

Did you know that the Japanese communication style naturally allows for pauses and blanks while communicating. This natural practice can be very powerful when applied to your own speech patterns.

We are in such a hurry to make our point, to get it all out, to make a good impression that we don’t take the time to consider the quality of our interaction

Perhaps just as important is what isn’t said and the space between the words – the all too often neglected art of pausing. Indeed Japanese people naturally pause when speaking or negotiating. At first, this might confuse their Western counterparts as silence is something we always try to avoid. Conversely, it is completely acceptable in Japan to remain quiet, sit back, and to take your time before answering.

Too often, we are in such a hurry to make our point, to get it all out, to make a good impression that we don’t take the time to consider the quality of our interaction or to reflect on what is being said.

Listen before you answer

Many of us are also guilty of thinking about what we want to say next rather than really listening

What is more, we often feel uncomfortable with silence and rush to fill it rather than giving the listener the chance to absorb what we have said and make sense of the message. Many of us are also guilty of thinking about what we want to say next rather than really listening to the other person so that rather than pausing to digest what has been said we jump straight in regardless.

Why don’t you just try pausing ?

We might find that the quality of the communication improves

Perhaps we should all challenge ourselves to feel more comfortable pausing – whether after speaking, before responding or even before hitting the send button.

We probably won’t miss our turn or lose the opportunity to convey what we want to say but we might find that the quality of the communication improves as everyone involved has the opportunity to savour the meaning and reflect on what has been said.

Mastering the art of silence will help you communicate with impact

And finally, when you are communicating by email, always, always pause and pause again before you hit the send button

If you really want to communicate with impact and achieve what you want, you should seriously consider mastering the art of pausing and battle the urge to fill every silence. If you are negotiating, giving a presentation or speaking at a formal meeting, remember to pause, and maybe even smile, after each of your main points.

This will give more weight to your message and will allow your audience time to consider and really understand what you have said. When you are communicating one-to-one try adopting the Japanese communication style and you will find you come across more assertively and feel calmer particularly during potentially sensitive conversations.