The Power of silence

I have now been using NLP for around 12 years, mainly with clients and also in training but I use it on myself too my day to day life -because for some reason weird stuff happens to me, unusual things happen, and sometimes quite challenging things happen too.

I need to use my skills to be able to reframe everyday things that happen in life so that I can see those from the best possible perspective. So I’m sharing with you, how I am using my NLP in an everyday scenario and then perhaps you too can start using the some of the same NLP skills for yourself for your own benefit and your well being too.

Essentially, I’m going to share with you slices of life with an NLP twist to them. I can’t guarantee that it will be pure NLP, in fact, I’m not sure that this article is. But, it does have a personal development edge to it. It has have a degree of positive attitude and even a splash of humour in there too.

Sometimes when I work with a people on a one to one, and I ask them a tricky question. And when I say ‘tricky question’, I don’t mean that the answer is difficult, I mean that the answer is difficult for them to share for some reason.

Now, in that situation, you can either keep digging with more and more and more questions. Or you can use the benefit of silence. Because when there is silence in the room, people like to fill it because it feels a little bit uncomfortable in a way. And, it causes them to open up and to share more than they were going to.

So, an example of where I used this in the past (although I wasn’t actually meaning to). We were contacting companies to provide CD’s for us for the People Building members club.

When spoke to the chap at one of the companies, I said ‘how much is it going to cost roughly per disk?’ and he said ‘It’s around £1.04 per disk.’

Now, as he was saying this, I was frantically looking through my notebook trying to find the details of all the other companies that I had asked the same question to, so I could start comparing the numbers.

What it sounded like for him, was as if I went silent, because I was thinking and looking for stuff and not speaking. So he started to do to fill the silence, because it felt strange. But to fill the silence, he started to negotiate himself down, so it sounded a bit like this:

‘So it’s typically about £1.04’… ‘I could probably do it for £1.02 though’…’Er, er, £1 would be fine. I could… Erm’… ‘Actually we could do it for 98p.’… ‘See 95p would really be pushing it…’… ‘OK. I’ll do it for 95p.’

At which point my attention kicked back in and I said:

‘Yeah, yeah 95p per disk is absolutely fine, thank you very much!’

I realised then how powerful the skill of silence can be in negotiating.

How does this tie in with NLP? It doesn’t directly, but we do know for example that ‘nature likes a void.’ So that is when we take something away, we typically like to fill it back up with something else.

When we work with clients for example, if we have helped address an issue like smoking, and part of the payoff that they got from smoking was that they got to speak to other people in the smoking area outside of work – that was their social time. Take smoking away, they might feel the loss of connection so its really important that we find some other way of meeting that need for connection without smoking so that they don’t go back to smoking just to meet that need for connection again. When you take something away, it gets filled up with something else which might be the same unhelpful thing we took away, or something just as bad or worse – unless we purposely fill it with something useful and meaningful.

So, going back to the skill of silence, its not just that I know how this works and I know how to do it, the fact is, it also works on me, as I discovered to my surprise yesterday! So, for those of you who have been out of the loop for a little while, lots of stuff has been going on here at PB HQ. I moved house and we moved the office into a new building and that needed a big refurbishment (because it was a hairdresser) I got two cats, and my dad passed away, which was very sad, we got burgled and lost all of the office computers – lots has happened in the last 2 years!

So, one of the things that happened since I moved back to my hometown (the lovely Hemel Hempstead) is that part of the area has been renovated and relaunched and I very much wanted to be part of that new community and to start developing a sense of community spirit. So I took part in the old town traders association meeting. They hadn’t got together for quite a while since the renovations were completed in the last year. So, it was a new group in a way with some familiar faces and just a couple of newbies – me being one of them.

I went to this Traders Association meeting and the guy that was chairing it said:

‘I think you know going forward, we need to be more structured, more strategic about how we’re utilising this forum, so I suggest that we should appoint a chairman, a vice chairman a secretary, a treasurer etc.

‘ So, everyone said that he should really be the chairmain he had arranged the meeting.

And he said ‘OK, so I’m looking now for a vice chairman to step in whenever I’m not around’.

He looked around the room, making eye contact with everyone, and the room went silent. Then suddenly, I heard ‘I’ll do it?’ and I looked around to establish where the little voice had come from and I realised that the little voice had come from me.

The pressure of the silence had clearly become too much and I nominated myself to be the vice chairman of the traders association in my first meeting!

I don’t know if its a good thing or a bad thing but they accepted. So, I now have another job title which is going to be interesting.

The power of silence really does work. It also does work on me and I know how it works! Here’s what I want you to do with this. In the comments area below the article I want you to share your own stories about where you’ve either been caught out by the power of silence yourself or where you’ve used it to craftily manipulate a situation for your own good.

Summary
Photo ofGemma Bailey
Name
Gemma Bailey
Nickname
(Gemma@PeopleBuilding.co.uk)
Website
Job Title
Company Director, Hypnotherapist & NLP Trainer
Company
People Building

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