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Silence is worth $600,000 per hour

Picture by CRASH:candyI already talked about silence as a communication tool but I can now estimate the value of silence at nearly $600,000 per hour. I recently came to this surprising conclusion when I bought my new car a few weeks ago.

Before I tell you my surprising story, I need to explain a few things about silence. During my coaching development program, we were explained that leaving room for silence allows the other person to clearly express their thoughts and feelings. Without silence, those thoughts and feelings would be unspoken and hence, unknown.

Keeping silence in a conversation also puts an uncomfortable pressure on the person spoken to – to speak. Try it for yourself and see how strange the situation becomes when no one is speaking.

To help us as coaches, we were told to keep our mouth shut and mind focused by counting in our head. You leave room for silence and start counting (in your head, otherwise there is no silence!). 1, 2, 3, 4… While you are counting, the other person feels some pressure and most probably will start talking – usually what follows the silence is very useful information.

So back to my story.

After seeing a few dealers and selecting the car I was going to buy, I entered into the typical negotiation scheme with the car salesman.

  • Salesman: “$xx,xxx. This is my final price”
  • Me: “Sorry, that’s too high. I did research on the Internet and I have a pretty good idea what the markup is on this car”
  • Salesman, looking shocked: “Let me see what my supervisor can do for you”
  • Salesman, coming back after a few minutes: “It’s your lucky day, my supervisor says that he wants us to reach our quota, so we’ll take out another $1,500”
  • Me: “That’s nice but it’s still higher than what I’m willing to pay for this car”
  • (…) a few more rounds of negotiation (…)
  • Salesman, somewhat surprised: “You know, (blah, blah, blah)…”
  • Me: “I understand. Listen, thank you for your time. I’m not in a hurry so I’ll keep shopping”
  • Salesman, getting anoid: “Listen, if you are that serious. I’ll take out another $1,000 but that’s really the best I can do!”
  • Me, pulling out my credit card to make a deposit: “I don’t believe this is the best price you can make. What else can you do…”
  • SILENCE
  • Me (counting in my head): “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6…
  • Salesman: “I’ll take out another $1,000 but I can’t and won’t go down anymore”
  • Me: “Deal!”

$1,000 off the final price for 6 seconds of silence. Isn’t that a nice hourly rate!

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. A few more seconds and he was taking HIS credit card!

    July 7, 2010
  2. silence is a tool that i constantly work on.
    There is a false pressure that I place on myself ( i see many of coaches and facilitator also do this ) of filling time and sharing information.
    Yet once you just shut it – people feel permission to share information and great useful stuff comes out.

    July 8, 2010
    • Thanks for your comment Michael.

      Indeed, silence is very powerful when one wishes to truly understand the perspective of others. It requires practice as we are used to talking…

      July 9, 2010

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