Silence - a Power Tactic in Negotiations

A key aspect of negotiations is that both parties need a little power for there to be a negotiation. It is a good idea to find the source of the other person's power and test it to see if it really is as solid as they would like you to believe.

Silence is a tactic used to measure the other person's confidence in their position; a means to testing their power base. People have an innate need to keep conversations going. Silence makes most people uncomfortable.

Silence begs a response. When the other person makes a proposal or offer they expect you to respond; to counter or accept. The reaction to your silence is telling. Watch both the body language and verbal response to sense where they are in the negotiation.

If they appear concerned they may be telegraphing that they are worried that they may have been too aggressive in their proposal giving you room to counter; perhaps more aggressively than you would have.

If they are more concerned about the time or other distraction then they may be indicating that they have made their final and best offer and are ready to close the negotiations and move on to other pressing matters, like a drink at the bar or getting to Billy's baseball game.

If they sit smugly looking disinterested in you, your response or much of anything else beware. They are seemingly disconnected from the discussion and may be only going through the motions. The proper response to this type of reaction is to try to solicit what has their attention so you can decide if further discussions will be worth your time or if you need to postpone the meeting.

Disinterest is a telling power signal. It infers that the matter at hand is really not worth the time it is taking. That is an ultimate power statement.

Disinterest is often feigned in business and social settings. So it has to be tested.
The sixteen year old girl flirting with the visiting college man may walk away several times before accepting a date just to set her hooks. This is feigned disinterest. The same tactics are used in the business setting and has the same impact. Test disinterest before raising the ante.