The Silent Treatment
The art of negotiation has been the subject of several past blogs, due in part to the large amount of advice available from industry professionals. The majority of suggestions stress the importance of listening during the negotiation process, as well as making eye contact, asking questions, and leaving with a firm handshake. I recently came across a piece of advice that offered a different type of tactic. The article, from Marketing Scoop, discusses the importance of silence while negotiating, and in addition to the typical advice on listening, the article also suggests the "10-second strategy": "…the next time you are negotiating with the other party, and they say something like "well, that's my offer," don't utter a word for 10 seconds. It's practically guaranteed they will jump in with another offer or more information, anything to break the silence. When you get comfortable with 10 seconds, bump it up to 20 seconds. The silence will hang like lead and drive 'em crazy! " Interesting. Ten seconds may not sound like a long time, but during a meeting, those 10 seconds of silence may feel like an eternity. While Marketing Scoop doesn't offer any examples of the effectiveness of this strategy, admittedly, it is an out of the ordinary idea. One of the questions that comes up is what should one do during this time? Maintain steady eye contact? Shuffle papers? Twiddle his or her thumbs? Silence is not always bad, but agencies should find the comfortable balance between speaking up and keeping mum. The 10-second strategy might not be for everyone, but it does provide a starting point from which agencies can examine the role silence plays in their negotiations, and who knows, maybe a 5‑second strategy is just what your agency needs.