I thought the other day about David, a former
co-worker of mine in a lending office. A client and I
were discussing the art and strategy of negotiating.
Dave was good for keeping
things in balance in the office with a good dose of
wisdom with humor every now and then. His humor
was desert dry with a sprinkle of sarcasm.
I remember a time when an excited house buying
couple called Dave about financing the house upon
which the sellers had just accepted their offer. They
began to tell Dave what a “good deal” they’d just
gotten. “Good deal?” , he questioned. "You got the
house because your offer was more than anyone else
would pay.” He was good at administering reality
checks along with the loan checks.
One of his favorite seller negotiating tips was to
present your price offer for an item and then shut
up. When he said shut up he meant: no talking,
silence, bite a hole through your lip if you have to,
but calmly wait for the seller’s response. He used
the expression, “ He who speaks first,
loses.” to describe this technique.
A few years went by before I began to understand
the value of that negotiating tactic. You see,
increasingly in our North American society, silence is
an uncomfortable element in a conversation. We
cannot tolerate “dead air”. A result of too much
radio and TV listening and viewing, the lack of sound
has conditioned us to believe something is wrong.
The radio station must have stopped broadcasting.
The television station has a transmission problem.
Things are broken because there is silence.
And this is the way society has evolved into
evaluating conversations. If the dialogue stops, if
there is dead air, then something is wrong or it’s
broken. As you talk business and put an offer or
counter offer in front of the buyer or seller, a silence
or lack of response, will make you automatically
think “It’s not working, I’ve got to sweeten the
deal”, and you break the silence and begin talking.
Silence is Powerful! That’s what Dave
meant when he told me he who speaks first loses.
Never assume silence is a form of rejection. It’s a
signal of thought taking place, nothing more. It’s a
waiting game for decisions. The impatient negotiator
who makes concessions before hearing a response
from the opposing buyer or seller, will never know
that he would have had a deal with his first offer if
waited a few more seconds.
As you negotiate for price and terms, keep in mind
the power of silence. Begin to test your capacity to
feel uncomfortable with awkward silence in a
conversation. Resist the temptation to play
traditional negotiating tennis by returning each verbal
Let silence help your game, because he who
speaks first, loses.
Silence is a tactic that can help you control the
dollars, one of my 8 simple strategies for
success. To learn how I can help you
strategically in your business,