It’s better to say less than too much
In business, as in life, there are many instances where it pays to be the first to speak. But there are just as many times when it’s better to stay quiet and let others take the lead.
This is especially true when it comes to business meetings and negotiations. You gain valuable insights into their priorities and position by remaining silent and allowing others to speak first. You can use this information to your advantage when it comes time to make your own proposals.
What’s more, speaking first can often put you at a disadvantage. If you’re the one who initiates the discussion, you’re the one who sets the tone and direction for the entire conversation. This can limit your ability to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the situation.
The Benefits of Silence
There are many benefits to remaining silent and letting others take the lead in business meetings and negotiations. Here are a few of the most important ones:
You learn about their priorities. When you allow others to speak first, you gain valuable insights into their priorities. What matters most to them? What are their key concerns? By understanding their priorities, you can tailor your proposals to meet their needs better.
You avoid setting the tone. When you’re the one who initiates the discussion, you’re also the one who sets the tone for the entire conversation. This can limit your ability to be responsive to the needs of the situation. If, on the other hand, you let others take the lead, you can adjust your approach accordingly based on their tone and demeanor.
You gain an opportunity to assess them. Remaining silent also allows you to evaluate the other person or people involved in the meeting or negotiation. Are they reasonable? Open-minded? Flexible? Knowing these things can help you determine whether or not it’s worth pursuing a particular proposal or course of action.
Of course, there are also times when it’s better to be the one who speaks first. Suppose you have time-sensitive information to share, for example. In that case, it may be better to get it out in the open right away rather than waiting for someone else to bring it up later on down the line. Similarly, if you’re confident in your proposal and believe that speaking first will give you an advantage, then by all means, go ahead and take that initiative. It’s all about knowing when to hold your tongue and when to speak up – two skills that every successful business professional must master.
A fool is known by his speech; and a wise man by silence.Pythagoras
Next time you’re heading into a business meeting or negotiation, take a moment to consider whether or not it would be advantageous for you to speak first. In many cases, remaining silent and letting others take the lead can give you a major leg up by providing valuable insights into their priorities and position. It’s all about knowing when to hold your tongue – and when not to – that separates successful professionals from everyone else.
Learn how and when to speak by taking my course Speaking Mastery. Click here for more information.