jun 25

The Silent No

If you know me, you know I'm a master of The Silent No.

1 comment

This reminds me of the east Asian way of doing things, at least in my experience with Chinese and Japanese business dealings. They'll never say no outright. It is apparently rooted in the concept of "face" as in not causing you to lose it and be shamed. They might say "we'll try" or "that is interesting" but that is your clue that ain't gonna happen. Also, in Japanese dealings, apparently waiting for a long time and saying nothing is a common bargaining technique. When your counterpart says nothing and keeps putting you off for months, you begin to squirm and concede. This can actually work well in dealings over here too. Cialdini outlines this as a technique in his book called like Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion. It's very awkward when you first try it because we're just culturally compelled to speak and respond in the silent spaces. But when you're on the phone with that guy, and you need him to come around more to your position, just try saying nothing and not responding. If after a while of silence he's like, "Are... are you there?" be like, "Yep" and still say nothing. And when he says "so uhh, so are we set on $200,000?" you say nothing. Often the other guy will start conceding after long enough. "Well I mean we could look at knocking that down to 190 if we reconfigure a bit..." That's what my real estate buddy says anyway. I feel like an experienced businessperson would just call the bluff and say "well call me back when you're ready to respond" or even "You say you heard me. Will you be responding?" And if silent, just be like, "I'll talk to you later. Anyway, RE buddy says it can work.

posted by Eric at 6:26 PM on June 26, 2007

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