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“Better to trip with the feet than the tongue.”

Zeno of Citium

Silence is illusive in modern times. The days of sitting on the front porch in the evenings listening to the crickets seem long gone. We crave it, run from it, don’t know how to be with it. Social media and the constant barrage of information from every direction has virtually wiped out the empty space in many of our days. I drive hours each week to co-inhabit with nature and silence. To step out of the buzz and into the Shhh and recharge. Silence is potent medicine in life but also a powerful tool in real estate negotiations.
Why is silence so powerful?
When we are silent, we are more likely to pause. It makes us think more clearly and make more conscious decisions. Maybe we don’t send that email or decide to change the tone of it before sending. Perhaps we make a different decision than our initial impulse.

Silence makes a lot of people uncomfortable. When other people are feeling uncomfortable wondering what is happening and you are standing in a space of silent confidence it increases your negotiating power.

What other negotiating tools change the playing field?
Detach, Detach, Detach
Attachment to an outcome during negotiations is blinding.

The best advice I offer to my client’s to be very specific and clear about their goals; go for it with abandon and simultaneously be willing to let it go. That sounds crazy right? Actually, it is potently effective. This is different than not caring about the outcome.

There is a principle called The Law of Reverse Effort. In this case, it means that if we want something too badly, we will actually create the opposite effect and drive it away from us. If we can detach from a situation, step back and be willing to let go of a particular outcome, we give it room to breathe and it will come to us with less effort if it is meant to be.

Detachment puts us in a position of power. If the person/entity that you are negotiating with has the sense that you are willing to walk away, they will be more willing to please.

Lastly….Speak Their Language
I had a lesson in this negotiating tool recently. My Mom moved from her beloved home of 53 years to a personal care home in January. The transition happened while my father was dying. It was traumatic for her to say the least. For a few months despite my sister’s pleading and encouragement, Mom refused to leave her room. She was depressed, angry and miserable. When I visited her in April, I was determined to break this cycle.

One afternoon, I asked the staff to introduce me to a lovely lady named Judy. My sister has shared that Mom and Judy happened to sit on the porch together once and they seemed to get along. I approached Judy and said, “Judy, my Mom would love to sit on the porch with you.” Judy was delighted and willing. I went back to Mom and said, “Mom, I just ran into Judy and she would love to sit on the porch with you.” Mom’s response, “Really? Ok.”  Mom and Judy visited on the porch.

The next day I said to my Mom, “Mom would you have lunch with me in the activity room? They are going to fix a plate for me.” Mom refused to go into the activity room or to participate in any activities. She avoided it like the plague. She looked at me surprised and said, “They are fixing a plate for you?” Me, “Yes and they will have all of your things out there too.” We had a lovely lunch in the activity room.

I flew home feeling good but now it was up to her. The next day Mom calls.  “I went out into the activity room today to listen to a pastor singing. He had an amazing voice and was really good!” I couldn’t believe it! What a relief.

What I didn’t realize until later was that the reason my “negotiations” with my Mom were successful was because I spoke her language. You see, my Mom’s language is giving, pleasing and being in control. When she was asked if she would like to be around others or go out of her room she adamantly said, “NO!” When I asked the same question but from a place that doing these things would please Judy and myself, she felt empowered and willing.

Negotiating is an art. In order to be effective, we need to be quiet and clear, willing to let go of our desired outcome and an active listener so that we can understand where someone is coming from. It is an an ongoing, humbling and rewarding practice and one of the favorite parts of my business. Bringing people together and witnessing people empowering themselves is a gift.

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