In a difficult conversation, one party is usually looking for answers. Why something was said, or why something did or didn't happen. In tough talks like that, silence can be your greatest ally.
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People don't like silence; that's why "awkward silences" are moments so many people try to avoid. Silence can be good for you, however, if you use it intentionally, and use it the right way. On his LinkedIn blog, Dr Travis Bradberry, the author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, explains that silence can be the best way to get the answers you're looking for:
When you ask someone a question and they're slow to respond, don't feel pressure to move the conversation forward. Remaining silent plays to your advantage. Moments of silence make people feel as though they should speak, especially when the ball is in their court. This is a great tool to use in negotiations and other difficult conversations. Just make certain you resist the urge to move the conversation forward until you get your answer.
Silence can go both ways too. When a tough question comes your way, embrace the silent pause that will come along with it. Take the time you need to process your response and answer when you're ready. With a little silence, you can take control of the conversation and get exactly what you hoped get.