The next time you have a conversation, try tactics of relaxing, breathing and pausing. And taking time to analyze the silence.
Try focusing on the pauses. What do they tell you about what the speaker is saying, feeling, or trying to communicate? Then look at your own emotional and physical responses to the silence. Does it make you uncomfortable? What are you feeling? How is your body responding? Do you feel a strong urge to say something? Can you simply stay silent for a time, despite your discomfort?
Try deliberately pausing when you want to emphasize something you have just said or to encourage your negotiation partner to reflect on it. What effect does this have on them? Does it increase the power of your last statement?
If not, try repeating it; then fall silent and pause again. Pausing can be a negotiator’s best ally. It allows you to take a breath, digest what has happened, and refocus your energies. Pausing may also force your negotiation partner to stop and re-evaluate what he or she (or you) just said. The space often makes new directions and breakthroughs possible.
Excerpt from The House Matters in Divorce by Laurel Starks, Unhooked Books.