Thursday, July 9, 2009

Silence as a Negotiation Tactic

One negotiation tactic that has worked on me in the past is strategic use of silence. When a gap in conversation gets long enough most of us have an irresistible urge to fill in the gap with something, anything.

The problem comes when negotiating and you jump in to fill a gap with a concession. It’s not just high-powered business negotiations that I’m talking about here; it could be negotiating over whose turn it is to wash the dishes.

Since I first learnt about silence as a negotiating tactic, I’ve recognized it being used by others many times. One long gap in conversation was on a telephone call with a lawyer seeking ridiculous concessions on a consulting contract. We didn’t talk for about 15 seconds, which may not sound long until you’re actually sitting there holding the phone for an apparent eternity in silence.

Fortunately, I knew about the use of silence and didn’t break the tension by agreeing to indemnify the other company against patent problems related to the project.  Avoiding social awkwardness can be expensive when negotiating.

1 comment:

  1. Nice point. I will talk when I am negotiating next time.