Let the Silence Do Your Talking

When I recently phoned to schedule removal of my car’s winter tires the shop owner advised me that “their tire policy had changed, and there would now be additional charges for their work”.  I thought for a moment then reminded him that a major incentive for buying the original tires from his shop had been the ‘no charge’ policy for the seasonal tire changes.  He provided me with an explanation on why the policy had been changed and their need to now charge.  I acknowledged his justification and calmly restated that the ‘no charge’ policy had been an important part of my original purchase decision.

After at least 15 seconds of silence (it seems like forever when you’re in the middle of it) I began wondering if I needed to reinforce my position further, but decided to wait for him to talk first.  Whether he was surprised by my insistence or just needed time to come up with a solution, he eventually spoke up offering a significant compromise that worked for both of us.  The tires got changed, and I’ll be back to his shop in the Fall.  Win/Win.

It reminded me of one of the ‘rules of thumb’ I’d learned in negotiations…

Sometimes it makes sense to “let the silence do your talking.”

Negotiations are an inherent part of running a business and being a business owner – whether with suppliers, customers, service providers, or even employees.  Don’t look now, you’re surrounded!

And sure we can ALL negotiate.  But there is an ‘art’ to effective negotiating – even a ‘finesse’ to it.  Negotiating comes naturally (comfortable) to some, and stilted (uncomfortable) to others.  To help you with your next negotiation, consider some of the following ‘rules of thumb’:


  1. Aim high: Your ‘ask’ is allowed to be aggressive, but it has to be credible and reasonable.
  2. The party who needs it the most will typically be the one giving up the most to ‘get’ it.                                           (Make sure you have other options.)
  3. Do your homework: Whoever is better prepared usually has the advantage.
  4. Ask questions for better understanding, perspective and clarity.                                                                             (Listen first, clarify second, talk last – will always position you better in a negotiation)
  5. Let silence do your talking.                                                                                                                                                 (Our tendency is to fill an ‘awkward’ silence with more information.  Instead, let it work for you.)
  6. Stay objective, remain composed, stay true to your objective. Don’t let emotions get in the way.                     (Example: You’re not allowed to fall in love with the new car or house until you own it!)
  7. Look for the win/win for future considerations (you may negotiate with this person again) and your reputation (people talk).
  8. Know your bottom line, stick to it and be willing to walk away.                                                                                  (Don’t start negotiating with yourself while you’re negotiating with others.)
  9. Either party is allowed to defer a decision, walk away, or say no if it doesn’t feel right.                                              (Too often we feel ‘pressured’ to make a decision on the spot.)
  10. Accepting or agreeing too quickly can make others feel exploited – feeling they left too much on the table. (Be respectful of others during AND after the negotiation.)

About Doug Osborne

Doug Osborne is creator of The Success Dashboard Execution Platform© - a simple, practical and visual subscription-based online execution platform that is proven to accelerate business execution and performance for business owners and leaders, literally within hours. With over 35 years business success, Doug is an experienced business coach, speaker, writer, and strategy facilitator working primarily with small and medium-sized family businesses on improved & sustained business execution for accelerated growth, improved performance, successful transition or higher-value sale.