If you want to use one of the most powerful yet least discussed influence skills – today i will show you how, but shhhhhhh!
Most people try to avoid awkward silences almost at all cost, this is exactly why not enough people are using them as a tool, and almost no one teaches how to use them.
However, this is exactly why they are so powerful!
The reason im calling them awkward silences is not because you have to feel awkward when you have them, and not even because you want the other person to feel awkward.
Very short Silences
It’s just because that there are basically 2 types of silences that can both be used as an influence skills. The first one, which we will not discuss today is really short silences, let’s say less than 2 or maybe 3 seconds.
These can come in handy to create drama and tension when telling a story, or giving another person some time to realise what you were just saying conveying it was really important.
The kind of silences we will discuss in depth today are longer silences let’s say, at least five seconds and up to even a few minutes. Using these in the right times in conversation and with the right body language can be intimidating at first – but when you will try it – you will get addicted.
Simply because they are so powerful and they can be used to create beautiful things in conversations.
Most of the power these silences have come from the fact that they create tension and people will automatically try to release and break it.
We will start with a business or negotiation example, and later i will also give some examples on how to use it to help or influence our friends, our families and even on dates!
Awkward silence in negotiation
So let’s say we are negotiating with someone, and they just made an offer, let’s say they just explained what their service includes and named their price. Usually people respond in two ways.
One is to accept – which is great if the deal they are offering you is great.
and the other is trying to give out reasons on why they should give you a better deal.
The thing is, especially when you want to have a bit of a long term relationship with this person, starting out this way may have some consequences, and one of the most effective ways to get people to improve their offers.
You guessed it, shhhhh, just be quiet.
It wont always work, but for most people, the few seconds after presenting the details of the deal are the most stressful part of the conversation, being quiet at this specific time will build the pressure up and they will subconsciously want to release it.
So if they have a way to improve the deal, even if they will have to work harder for it in the future (even in the very near future, like few minutes) they will more often than not fill the silence with another promise, a better price or another bonus.
As we all know from different areas of our life, unless we are speaking of a top value for the person, we will prioritize short term stress release over almost everything.
Just like if we are hungry, like really hungry and we are in a place that only serves pizza, its safe to assume that at least 8 out of 10 people will take that pizza – even if they will have to do another 60 minutes run later just to burn these calories.
Try that the next time you are in a negotiation situation and thank me later!
Awkward silences in relationships
But, a better price or more product is not the only thing people might prefer to keep for themselves and we would prefer to get out to the open.
Another example is when we want to make people more engaged in a conversation, it can be a friend, a family member or a date.
Our instinct says we should talk on as many subjects as possible to allow the other person to easily relate to at least of of them. And that strategy will sometimes work.
But a way more effective way to do that is to be quiet, simply shhhhh…
Some tension will be created and most people will very soon start talking, with that you can ask them open ended positive questions like:
“wow, what do you like about that?”
“amazing, how did you ended up discovering that?”
and I can promise you the other person will be 100% engaged in the conversation.
And in the end of the day they will actually feel like you were interesting, i know it sounds crazy, but give it a try!
Awkward silence Risks…
Rarely when we use this tool people might ask us why are we silent, and that should not intimidate us at all, there is a simple answer to this question in any situation.
In business situations
“im thinking about it” is perfect.
in a date
“im simply enjoying my time with you” might be appropriate.
and there is always
“im just curious as in to what else you have to tell me about that subject”
If you feel like you know a lot about influence, and you ever find yourself coming out of a conversation disappointed, because you did not use what you know, because a few minutes or hours after the conversation you suddenly know exactly what you should have said or done better.
you should watch this video: how to use influence skills because its about the 3 step process that will allow you to implement any influence tool you already know and make it a natural habit for you!
Remember influencing people is not allways about what you say, its a multi-layerd subject with many tools.