Want to earn a reputation as a savvy negotiator? Then keep quiet. The best persuaders treat words as a precious resource. They do not babble, repeat themselves or volunteer extraneous information. If you tend to veer off on tangents, then make extra effort to put the brakes on your motor mouth. When someone states an opinion or an offer, don’t feel obliged to jump in with an immediate response. Absorb what’s said and give the speaker ample time to elaborate. Apply the “four second rule” and count silently to four before you say a word. You’ll be surprised how many times the speaker decides to keep talking—and reveals more information that you can use to your advantage.
Also beware of letting your nervousness interfere with your natural style of communication. Some poor negotiators get so agitated with the prospect of having to stand their ground that they start rambling uncontrollably to relieve stress. Fight this fear by rehearsing your offer with a stand-in sitting across the table, and have a mirror nearby so you can see yourself firmly stating your position. This visual impression will reinforce your command of what you want to say.