'Nature abhors a vacuum. ’ In science, things move from where they are to where they are not. Gas will spread to fill a space, liquids will mix naturally, and air pressure will try to equalize. Have you ever seen a movie set in space where the spaceship has a whole and everything gets sucked out into space? That's because space is a vacuum and nature quickly tries to fill that vacuum with the air from inside the ship.
People are the same way with silence. Silences can be awkward and uncomfortable, and people will quickly try to speak to fill the void. When used properly however, silence can be a very powerful thing.
If you are in a conversation with someone, your first reaction might be to begin speaking as soon as they finish. If it's an animated conversation, you might even start talking before they finish speaking. If you do this, you do two things. First, if you have your response ready to go as soon as they stopped talking, you probably stopped listening to them before they finished. Second, you miss an opportunity to connect with the person.
Pausing before you respond lets the other person know that you have been listening, and that you are thinking about what they just said. If you're doing the technique right, you actually will be thinking about what they said. The pause also deflates heated discussions and gives you some control.
In negotiating, a common piece of advice is after the price has been stated and the order has been asked for, the first person to speak loses. Get comfortable with silence, and you will dramatically increase your power when interacting with others.
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