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Using Dynamic Silence™ to Improve Personal Relationships

By |August 21, 2023

One of our most effective negotiation skills, Dynamic Silence™, doesn’t even require you to talk. 

At a high level, Dynamic Silence intentionally creates a void in a conversation to give counterparts room to think. But not everyone responds to Dynamic Silence the same way. 

In fact, roughly two-thirds of the population—the Assertives and Accommodators of the world—get uncomfortable when things go silent. Assertives will typically jump in and fill the silence because they want to be heard, whereas Accommodators will interpret a break in dialogue as a signal that you might be done with the conversation, to the point they begin questioning the entire relationship.

Although we often talk about using negotiation skills to get better business outcomes, you can also use the Black Swan skills to improve your personal relationships. Keep reading to learn more about how each of the three negotiator types can use Dynamic Silence to their advantage in any conversation.

1. Assertives

When dealing with difficult conversations, Assertives tend to stick their feet in their mouths when there’s silence in the room. In actuality, Assertives should use silence to their advantage so they don’t say emotionally driven things that drive a bigger wedge into the relationship. 

If you’re an Assertive, use Dynamic Silence to mitigate the negatives associated with being an Assertive—mainly talking too much and being too aggressive. 

2. Accommodators

Accommodators care so much about their relationships that silence can be devastating. You need to remember not to take silence personally.

If you’re dealing with an Assertive, allow them to use the silence to vent. If you’re dealing with someone silent, ask yourself whether that person is an Analyst who uses the time to ensure they are giving a thorough answer.  

Above all, remember to stay curious. When you engage your counterpart from a position of curiosity, it’s easier to navigate pauses in a conversation because you’ll genuinely be trying to understand where those pauses are coming from.

3. Analysts

Sometimes Analysts are unaware of how their silence is perceived. Although you may enjoy silence, you need to be aware that the two other negotiator types do not. Use silence too much, and you can come across as cold and disengaged. Should this happen, your counterparts will begin reading into what you’re not saying just as much as what you are, creating their own narratives. 

Dynamic Silence is a great tool when you don’t have an easy answer and a knee-jerk response won’t help. But if you’re an Analyst, you need to remember that Dynamic Silence can be interpreted as though you’re being too guarded. 

My neighbor’s 22-year-old son is dating a young lady. He’s an Analyst who deeply thinks about his responses and doesn’t interject unless he feels his input is solid. His girlfriend routinely questions his emotions and how he feels about her because he doesn’t respond to everything she says.

There’s a simple fix to this kind of behavior: using minimal encouragers and labels. By interjecting in the affirmative—such as mm-hmm, OK, got you—or simply nodding your head, you let the other side know you’re paying attention. Labeling is an easy way to ensure your counterpart knows your  listening without necessarily giving a detailed response. 

If you genuinely need some time to think, that’s perfectly fine. Use a No-Oriented Question™ in such a scenario: Would you be opposed to giving me a day or two to think about this? 

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How to Use Dynamic Silence™ to Improve Personal Relationships

We can sense discomfort in the middle of an awkward, extended silence. So whenever you use Dynamic Silence, expect to be uncomfortable. You can navigate these feelings by self-Labeling™: It seems like this silence is making me uncomfortable. Stay inside your head and give your counterpart space to think and speak.

Remember that Dynamic Silence works in both your professional and personal relationships. That said, it’s much safer to practice the skill in small-stakes arenas, such as with friends and family. As you go about your day, intentionally use Dynamic Silence and try to get comfortable with it. 

When Dynamic Silence is new, it’s intimidating. But by learning it and trusting it, you can allow it to work wonders in both your professional and personal relationships.

Dynamic Silence is one of the Black Swan’s core skills, the Negotiation 9®, that can help you execute Tactical Empathy®. To learn about the other skills, check this out.

The Black Swan Group Negotiation 9