Silence can be an important tool in helping you get what you want. Photo: Getty

Asking your employer for a raise can be overwhelming, so many people will avoid asking for a salary change. As the old saying goes: if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

There are certain approaches and best practices that work in your favor when asking for a raise. Even though your manager is likely to be aware of the hard work you have put in, you still need to present your reasons why you deserve a higher salary and you should be prepared to negotiate.

However, there is another tool that can help you formulate your request: silence.

A lot of people are uncomfortable with silence. We tend to talk on top of each other, with a little pause between point and counterpoint – and when the conversation stops, we tend to find something to say for fun. However, accepting silence can be a useful negotiation skill.

Learning to sit for a period of silence gives us a chance to really listen to what the other person is saying, something that we are struggling with. When someone speaks, we tend to prepare our own responses rather than listen. However, allowing a few moments of silence in the negotiation before responding can help you listen more effectively – and think about what the person is saying.

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Now, new research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology reveals that a pause of at least three seconds during a negotiation can work in your favor.

In a series of studies in which wage negotiations were simulated in conversation, researchers found that periods of silence interrupt “default, zero-sum thinking” to foster a more “thoughtful and deliberative” mindset. . In turn, this will likely lead to the recognition of “golden” opportunities, the researchers found.

In other words, a period of silence gives the person time to think more deeply about the problem in question. And this pause helps them see the discussion as less of a “tug of war” and envision more favorable outcomes.

“When set up to answer a sensitive question or comment, negotiators often feel they need to respond immediately so as not to appear weak or disrupt the flow of the negotiation,” says Jared Curhan, Associate Professor of Labor and organization. studied at MIT Sloan School of Management, which led the study.

“However, our research suggests that taking a silent break can be a simple but very effective tool in helping negotiators move from a fixed thought to a more reflective mindset. This, in turn, leads to the recognition of golden opportunities to expand the proverbial pie and create value for both parties.

In the first study, the research team explored the effect of silence as it naturally occurs in a negotiation. Participants were randomly assigned to the role of candidate or recruiter in a simulated negotiation regarding candidate compensation.

Using a computer algorithm to measure intervals of silence that were at least three seconds long, the team found that periods of silence tended to precede breakthroughs in negotiation. In fact, breakthroughs were more likely to occur after silent pauses than at any other point in trading.

The other three experiments explored how people can use deliberate silence as a tool for negotiation. Again, participants were randomly assigned roles in an employment discussion, but one in the couple was told to add silent pauses to their negotiation.

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Researchers found that when silence was used as a tactic, the user of silence tended to adopt a deliberative mindset and was more likely to recognize opportunities for both parties to get more of what they wanted. .

“In conventional wisdom, negotiation is seen as a showdown – any gain on one side reflects a loss on the other,” said Curhan.

“But it doesn’t have to be a battle and the pie isn’t necessarily set. There are creative ways to resolve conflicts and there is more room for agreement than people realize. Our research shows that one way to find this room and spark that ingenuity is silence. “

Watch: How to Negotiate a Salary Increase

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