However frustrating silence is in a negotiation, it is imperative to learn to enjoy the silence and let the other side respond to your proposal / statement in their own time. Rushing in with amendments is tantamount to negotiating with yourself, and confusing them with “chat” can be just as damaging.

I am currently engaged in a negotiation via e-mail, as the other party is in a different time zone we are finding it easier to exchange e-mails than arranging phone calls at odd hours. It is increasingly frustrating though when I send over a proposal and I receive nothing but silence in return.

Q: What is the worst thing I could do? A: Send another proposal.

I have seen it done through consultancy work, where an unexpected pause in the negotiation causes fear from one side that they simply have not offered enough, so they reform their proposal, giving more, before the other side has even responded (or rejected) the current proposal.

It can often take time, through considerations and indeed consultations with other staff, to respond to a proposal: “Is it acceptable, what could we alter? Do we understand its implications fully? How should we respond?” These are all valid questions that the party should be asking before responding, so let them have the time to do so.

If you haven’t heard back, instead of reforming your proposal, perhaps ask them what they think of the proposal. Ask if they have any questions about its form or content that you could perhaps clarify for them. Or even just check that they have received it.

Don’t be tempted to alter it though, until you have had some feedback.

In short – SHUT UP!