Negotiating is a hard skill. But there is no escape. From sales to job interviews, we often find ourselves in a tough spot. When there’s a lot at stake and you do plan to win, here’s the golden advice – take a pause.
Yes, quite literally – take a pause. A few seconds of silence is what you need.
How does taking a pause help in negotiations?
The next time you try to navigate sales objections, negotiate a job offer, need to express your disappointment in an argument – observe silence.
When the other person or persons involved raise an objection or counter what you’ve proposed – take a pause.
How? Fight the urge to get back with a quick response. Instead, maintain a poker face and sit tight. For help, count till five in your head. Let me share two examples.
Example 1: Sales Objection
Imagine you are meeting a prospective client for a sales pitch. You’ve quoted your service fee and the client shoots back, asking for a silly reduction.
“This is too expensive” or “We’ve received a lower quotation from company A” or “Can you lower the price?”
What do you do? Hold back your response.
Don’t respond immediately. Maintain a poker face. Take a pause. Be quiet for 3 to 5 seconds.
In most cases, the client will break the silence. In those few seconds, they try to figure out what just happened.
They’ll either offer a better price or they will explain their case on why they need a lower quote.
It places you in a better position. The client raises their expected price or you get an explanation on why they feel you’ve quoted higher. Both let you work around the objection armed with usable, relevant information.
Example 2: Boss denies your leave application
You ask for a day off from work and the boss denies without understanding your case. (Yes, this happens. Not everyone works in employee friendly conditions.)
Don’t plead your case or respond instantaneously.
Take a pause, this time longer. 7 to 10 seconds. And yes, maintain a poker face.
The boss may not admit, but this will be the most awkward silent few seconds for him or her. There will be a bout of guilt building up.
“May be she really needed a day off.” “She does not ask for a leave for no reason.” “I shouldn’t have said no…”
Trust me – there will be an instant change in tone when the boss breaks the silence.
Now go for it and ask again.
Defense can be your best offense
Silence, although considered a defensive move, can often be your best offense to close arguments and situations.
This strategy to take a pause and push your opponent into a tricky spot works in all arrangements – sales, work, relationships. A constant flow of arguments and rebuttals cloud our capacity to listen and observe. So break the chain with a few seconds of absolute silence.
And when a pause or silence follows an outburst or denial from the other person involved, it prompts them to introspect. What you gain is an ally in your opponent. This may be a brief moment of support but latch onto it to win more arguments.
Got any experiences to share. Write in the comments below. And if you like reading my posts, please subscribe and send me a connection invite on LinkedIn. Thank you.