Negotiating Tip 88: The Power Of Silence

Written by John Hamilton Posted On Sunday, 25 September 2022 00:00

A closed mouth gathers no foot.

The Power of Silence

Women have long had an almost inherit knowledge of this power of silence.  They've learned the negotiating secret that silence always makes the other side feel uncomfortable.  Now before you get hyper-sensitive that this is a sexist remark, know that if you accused me of that to my face, I'd give you the silent treatment.


I'd hope that you'd come to the realization that what I actually did was give women a well-deserved compliment.  Most men tend to be quick to reply, too fast on the defense and too often rapid in saying the wrong thing. 

In any bargaining exchange - be it business, family or personal - one party being silent allows that party to gain power.  Now they have to maintain eye contact. They have to show little or no emotion.  They have to get a feel for how long that should last, but a few seconds usually does the trick.

That silence not only enables a 'power shift', it also provides time to carefully craft a reply.  Speaking too quickly, or off the cuff has compromised the effectiveness of many a good negotiator.

What's the old phrase? "You can be silent and have people think you are a fool, or you can open your mouth and prove it."  We've all had our share of speaking without our brains being fully engaged.  Perhaps the best motto is, "A closed mouth gathers no foot."

Good negotiators know that often the best response is... (silence).

Shhhhhhhh, it's working!  

Enjoy this newfound power.  It's amazingly effective in virtually every negotiating circumstance.  Put it to work for you in your next negotiating encounter.

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