Nothing to do with being locked up for tax evasion!
“It is the spaces between the bars that make the music”. Have you heard that before? I would have thought most people have.
When I first heard this saying, I don’t think I understood what it meant. But I have grown to understand the meaning and to see how these words can apply to various diverse situations and once understood, can influence the way you look at the world around you.
You could apply it to writing paper. You write in the gaps between the lines, albeit that the lines help you to locate your words on the paper.
Take another example. A building is generally taken to be its walls, roof, and fittings. However, a home is the gaps between these. Think about it. The living space where you spend all your time is the “nothing” between the walls. So, it is these spaces that provide much of the character to your home. The walls provide the context, but the space is what you use for all those family experiences. But when you describe your home, you generally use a description of the walls and their configuration.
However, let me suggest another application for these words. I don’t know about you, but I have always liked the thrill of negotiation, whether this be discussing services and prices, or negotiating a contract. I think I should have been a salesman.
In the beginning, when I was discussing prices, I would give my price and then carry on talking to avoid an awkward silence developing. But the awkwardness of the situation was all mine. It was my interpretation of events, not that of the other party to the discussion. These days I will give my price and then stop talking. If I am confident that my price is right for both parties, I do not need to say any more at that stage, so avoiding potentially falling headfirst into the silence that would otherwise ensue. I will be able to deal with questions from the other person when they are ready.
What I failed to understand when I was starting out was that most men need some thinking time and if you talk over their thinking time they cannot think clearly and will therefore push back and you have talked yourself out of a sale. In my experience, women don’t suffer from this trait, being able to think, talk and do half a dozen other things at the same time. We are just different.
I have also learned that price discussions are a little like playing Poker. If you give your price and then stop talking, the other person probably attributes more credibility to your word. If you carry on talking, what are you going to talk about. It will probably be you justifying your price. The other person then knows that you do not have the courage of your convictions, and that if they push you, you will probably give way. It is then just a question of how much ground you will surrender.
So, the silences in a negotiation can be every bit as powerful as the words, perhaps even more so.
Have I given away my advantage for the next time that we discuss prices. I don’t think so. But try me.
Alan E Long
The Long Partnership