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Being Comfortable at Letting Things go Silent is the Key to Better Communication Skills

There’s a moment in every sales conversation where it gets awkward.  You know what I’m talking about.  That moment of silence; a game of “who will speak first”.  Most “average” salespeople fill this uncomfortable gap by talking, wrongfully thinking that they are letting the other person off the hook by making them feel less stressed. Awkward moments brings about better communication skills for a deeper connection.

The best salespeople look at moments like this as an opportunity to rise above the competition  by  inviting discomfort into the conversation.

Silence Breeds Emotion

Here’s what they do – they pause.  They merely wait.  Studies show that if you wait at least four seconds, you automatically start creating an uncomfortableness in the conversation.  The silence starts to invoke the emotions of the person (or people) you are talking to.  People connect on emotions and even though it’s causing someone to squirm, it’s still emotional. 

Breaking Natural Patterns Allows Them to Retain More

The pausing also creates a natural “pattern interrupt”.  The human brain is always trying to create patterns in order to save you time and energy.  It can be a good thing.  Think driving home from work.  The brain recognizes the patter of driving home and basically says to you, “I got this.  You can think about anything else you want to think about and I’ll get us home.”

It’s the reason why you get home and can’t remember the actual drive.  During the sales conversation, the other person’s brain puts them into an immediate pattern and if you don’t interrupt or break the pattern, you sound like every other salesperson.  Your message never gets through.  Break the pattern and they remember you more than others.  This increases your probabilities of doing business with that person and brings about better communication skills. 

No matter how hard you try to remember something you only retain 25-35% of it on average, but creating segments within the conversation via silence and awkwardness will allow the person to retain more.  Remembering more elevates you above everyone else.  All through discomfort.

When They are More Alert, You Become More Persuasive

The other outcome of pausing is that it allows you to become more persuasive because the person is naturally more engaged.  Their attention is better.  They are more alert. You build better communication skills.

The tough part though is actually enduring the awkward silence.  A trick I learned is to always have a bottle of water or cup of coffee nearby. You can have this either virtually or in person.  It doesn’t matter.  After I ask a question, I’ll take a longgggg sip.  Long enough to last more than four seconds.  I’m letting the silence marinate in the conversation and invariably the discomfort causes the person to speak.

Pausing Also Causes You to Listen More Intently

Lastly, pausing causes you to listen more – which is the meta skill of ultra-high performing salespeople.  Listening  triggers the other person’s self-disclosure loop because they doing the majority of the talking.  They naturally (and biologically) are feeling good about themselves.  The best salespeople are always trying to trigger this loop in people.

Coffee is for closers, or in this case, for listeners.


In Selling the Price Increase: The Ultimate B2B Field Guide for Raising Prices Without Losing Customers, celebrated sales trainer Jeb Blount reveals the strategies, tactics, techniques, and frameworks that allow you to successfully master price increase initiatives. Download Your Free Chapter Here. HERE

About the author

Keith Lubner

Keith Lubner

Keith Lubner is Chief Strategy Officer at Sales Gravy and acts as an advisor,…

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