Monday 3 March 2014

Silence: A Licence to Negotiation

When Thomas Alva Edison received an offer from the Western Union Company for the ticker he had invented, he couldn't decide what price to ask. He requested for a couple of days time to think about the matter. Edison and his wife discussed the matter and Mrs. Edison suggested that he should ask for $20,000. Edison thought it an unreasonable and towering figure. But on the appointed day he went to the Western Union office ready to ask for the amount.

"Well, Mr. Edison", the Western Union representative said after he had greeted him. "How much do you want?"
Edison tried to say $20,000, but it still seemed to him an outrageous demand and he could not utter it. He hesitated, and he sat speechless. The Western Union official waited restlessly for Edison's answer. Still Edison did not speak.

The impatient businessman was unable to tolerate this long silence. He hastily said "How about a Hundred Thousand Dollars?"

                                                                  * * *

The one who blinks first, loses the game. Clearly it was Edison who benefited from the silence and Western Union Company that lost. Silence is a powerful tool in negotiation. It acts like a black hole, just waiting there for someone to fall into. If you withhold your opinion, you may get an unexpected cake from you counter-agent. The ability to conceal the view makes one an excellent negotiator. The tendency to say what you want without waiting to listen to the opponent may land you in a muddy ground.The more you speak more vulnerable you may become.


Rushiraj Waghela.

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