Your Best Business Partner – Silence

People should never underestimate the power of silence.  Ask any teacher in front of a room of children and they will agree that one of the best ways to get a room full of children to settle down is to simply stand still and be silent.  Silence signals expectation.  It provides space for thought, creativity and listening.  The proverb is true, silence IS golden.  In business, silence can often be your best partner on the road to success.

When we are silent we are leaving space for active listening to others.  Now I’m not saying that you should say nothing and just stare at the person across the table.  That might be a little creepy.  But, what is effective is asking an open-ended question and then giving the person time and space in which to answer.  By quieting ourselves we make room for other thoughts and opinions.  We are able to be open because we aren’t worried about what we are going to say next.  We are simply intaking, receiving information.  If you are interviewing a new employee, you will get better answers to your questions if you give them that space.  If you are talking to your team, you will get better feedback if you don’t jump in and give them the answers.  If you are meeting with a client, you will get better insight into their wants and needs if you let them take their time and think it through before you fire away with another question.

Good sales professionals also understand the value of silence.  In general, they operate under the 80/20 rule.  You should listen 80% of the time and talk only 20% of the time.  By doing this you can uncover needs, understand possible objects and connect with their/your customers in a meaningful way.  Sales professionals also know that silence can prevent the classic blunder of “talking themselves out of the sale”.

Silence is difficult for us to master.  It makes us uncomfortable and often we rush to fill that space with words.  Let’s say you are at a business presentation.  You have just presented a deal to your customer.  It’s a fair deal and you are anxious to close it.  Your customer looks at the presented document and doesn’t say a word.

…10 seconds go by…

…20 seconds go by…

You start to worry.  Sure, they could just be thinking it through, they could also be thinking about what they want for lunch… but maybe, just maybe, they are thinking this deal doesn’t cut it.  So, you start filling the silence with concessions, apologies and even objections they hadn’t even thought of.  Before you know it the deal is either much less profitable or, even worse, nonexistent.  All of this could have been avoided by simply staying quiet and giving the customer the chance to process the information they have been given.

Silence is a powerful business tool.  By learning how to strategically harness the power of silence business leaders can become more effective at communication, connection, and even sales.  Are you looking to be a better business leader?  Take the first step with our free leadership assessment tool and personal assessment.