Be Quiet

Be quiet.

Shut up.

Don’t say another word.

Let the other party speak. 

We so badly want to fill the awkward silence that exists in the space between receiving a message and responding to a message. Why? Because we don’t want to feel alone, yes. Because we fear the potential of rejection, yes. Because we feel like something will be lost (the deal, the friendship, the relationship, etc), yes. All of those things are true.

And yet, I believe we fear the unknown most of all. We have a natural predisposition for feeling comfortable if we “know” what may be coming next. And so, quite naturally, we try to control the unknowing by trying to be the architect of the known. And what’s strange and quite opposite to how we think things “should” work, is that within the unknown is where the known only starts to become clear.

Great musicians often say that the music isn’t the notes being played, but the rests between the notes. The more I study negotiation and practice the skill of silence, the more I’m beginning to believe that negotiation works in much the same way.

It’s generally not what’s said, but what’s left unsaid that leads to great discoveries and breakthroughs in negotiation.

So, be quiet.

Shut up.

Don’t say another word.

Let the other party speak.