“The more I keep quiet, the more I sign.

françois-xavier théry Published by François-Xavier Théry – 29 February 2024

In praise of silence in the deed of sale

A few months ago, a (brilliant) real estate saleswoman (we’ll call her Judith, she’ll recognize herself) challenged me by telling me that, during a session I was leading, “the more I keep quiet, the more I sign” … which didn’t fail to provoke a silence in our exchange, but not just any silence, undoubtedly the most productive there is … a silence that made me think, that projected me and that “annihilated” me by its obviousness, its relevance, its strength …

Silence with salespeople is a bit like “je t’aime moi non plus”, an ambiguous and contradictory relationship. On the one hand, everyone agrees “conceptually” that silence is a sales weapon in its own right … but so few actually practice it, most of whom don’t like it at all, believing that it hinders the relationship more than it facilitates it …

Let’s get rid of the filters first…

In the first place, the caricature of empathy, which implies constant interaction, bouncing back and forth … but how does it feel to be faced with a chatterbox? How does it feel to be faced with someone who leaves no breathing space, no room for the other person to reflect, to let his or her inner sensibility analyze, or worse, who waits for the slightest blank space to broach another, often unrelated subject … just the desire to flee, or at best to close up … in short, the opposite of an empathetic posture.

Then there’s the mental filter of a silence that’s supposed to disrupt the dynamic of exchange created with the other person, breaking the link and interaction … does this fear not ultimately mask a lack of self-confidence, in one’s own words, considering (wrongly) that if there’s silence, it’s because the other person doesn’t immediately agree, doesn’t corroborate, and that I therefore need to add more …

On the contrary, to leave room for silence is first and foremost to demonstrate a form of authority.

A personality who is an authority in his or her field of expertise is someone who is not at all afraid of silence, or even capable of provoking it… it’s fundamentally someone who wants to, not needs to. In the desire to create genuine sharing … by also giving the other person that feeling of freedom, freedom to have a different point of view … and therefore also by creating the conditions for this feeling of freedom … through silence, through the richness of silence.

Finally, true talent is knowing how to create active silences, productive silences, like dear Judith. Look closely at the posture, the gaze, the congruence of those rare salespeople who display this skill. Not only do they have the ability to provoke silences, naturally, intuitively, but they also have the capacity, through a look in the other person’s eyes, through humble gestures, through a relaxed (and not tense) posture… to invite the other person, even if they seem reserved, to express themselves, to speak, even to “reveal” themselves… and even more, to project themselves, the grail of productive silence… in short, to create, without saying anything, all the conditions to win support and “sign”.

How are you getting on with the silence?

For example, have you reached this stage of reading this article, or have you interrupted it before? And better still, have you resisted the urge to react before you’ve read the entire contribution? In other words, silence follows the same learning curve as all other learning: we start with the category of those who know everything about everything, who monopolize the floor, and therefore ignore silence just as much … as their own incompetence. If you’re in the 2nd stage of conscious incompetence, then congratulations, you’re aware that you need to work on being quieter at times. Right now, as you read these lines, perhaps you’re learning some practices to improve your management of silence – that’s conscious competence. And the ultimate goal in learning is automatism, the spontaneous, intuitive putting into practice – that’s unconscious competence.

To conclude this post, I can’t resist letting you meditate on the slogan of a famous brand of French fries that occupied my professional past as a marketer in the food industry for several years: “It’s those who talk about it the least who eat it the most”.

Silence … we turn (together, if you wish).

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