Getting to the Point A newsletter about the business of life
March 23, 2006

In this issue
  • He Who Speaks First, Loses
  • Others Have Said
  • On a personal note

  • He Who Speaks First, Loses

    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 he’d just 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 volley immediately.

    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, click here.

    Others Have Said

    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." -- Abraham Lincoln

    "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure." -- Mark Twain

    "Silence is a text easy to misread." -- A.A.Atanasio

    On a personal note

    I’ve helped clients understand the concept of “he who speaks first, loses” and apply it to their businesses with great success.

    I remember the first few times I used the negotiating tactic of silence.

    It was agony.

    I had to keep my poker face on and repeat the phrase, “he who. . . loses” over and over in my mind. Like most things, it gets easier to do with experience and because it works.

    Caution: If we are ever negotiating and you use this technique on me, I have a counter technique to use. So don’t even try it. Just accept my first offer. As Dave also said, “Be reasonable; do it my way.”

    Want to learn how to write your own newsletters and articles? Click here to learn more about this book In a moment of shameless self promotion, I want to tell you that author Michel Neray surprised me by mentioning my weekly newsletter in his top ten newsletters named in his new e-book!

    Quite an honor to be included with his other 9 picks!



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