In the run-up to a negotiation, common practice usually consists of preparing arguments and an array of possible responses. In other words, we tend to enter a negotiation ready to speak… a lot. However, mastering the art of remaining silent maybe equally important, if not more.

Moments of silence in a conversation naturally tend to generate a little discomfort. Parties will instinctively attempt to fill the void and may end up disclosing more information or elaborating more than they originally intended.

When done sparingly, intentionally introducing short periods of silence during a negotiation can act as a strategic tool to gain valuable insight into your interlocutor’s true interests. For example, try to remain silent after they’ve presented their position. Whether they perceive this as skepticism or an expectation to know more, you may be surprised by the additional clarifications which this silence will encourage them to offer.

Also, utilize this time to carefully observe your counterpart’s reactions and, if faced with a group of interlocutors, focus on sensing the interpersonal dynamics which take place. Body language often speaks louder than words and we are much more inclined to notice non-verbal cues if we take a step back to tune into them. Tailoring your tone and response accordingly will undoubtedly make your next move more impactful.

So next time you prepare to negotiate, try to think about what you want to say just as much as what you…won’t say.

 We are the sports practice of global advisory firm Burson Cohn & Wolfe. We provide strategy and communication advice for sport clients around the world. For more information: