I was reminded the other day of a lesson I learned back in my corporate days about the power of silence.
One of my colleagues was an incredibly clever man, but whenever I asked him a question, he just sat and looked at me – in silence.
I’d ask one question, then another, and another.
And still he would sit looking at me!
It took a long time for me to learn that his thinking process was internalised. During the silence, his brain would be whirring.
Unlike me, he would never start talking until he had thought through what he wanted to say – and then you could be sure it would be worth hearing!
Asking further questions before he had answered the first one achieved nothing.
Finally I realised the most useful thing I could do.
I learned to ask my question, then keep my mouth shut, and sit in silence, waiting. Then when he was ready, he would share his thoughts.
More recently I’ve learned to use this technique of silence with potential clients – and to teach it to actual clients.
It’s particularly useful when you are discussing price.
When someone asks you what you charge, tell them the price and then:
Often I see people name their price, and then launch into a long-winded explanation of the whys and wherefores, but that’s entirely unnecessary, and unhelpful!
There’s no need to elaborate, justify or apologise.
Let them process what you have said – in silence.
If they have questions, they will ask.
If not – there’s no further discussion needed!
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