Have recently read that the best tactic when negotiating is knowing when to shut up. Note: the tactic isn’t shutting up. It’s knowing when to shut up and only then shutting the actual up. Just another example of how nothing is easy.
People can get quite anxious when a conversation is suddenly shattered by the anvil-through-a-glass-topped-coffee-table hoo-ha of silence. Many feel they must charge into that void, swinging the heavy yammer of bovine sushi, (sometimes known as lower case b.s., not to be confused with upper case B.S.)
Yammering is like golf—the fewer the swings the better. As the old Byrds song reminds us “There is a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to laugh, a time to weep, a time to belch, a time to go sheesh, a time to eat it, a time to ralph* from eating it, a time to have gas, a time to quickly slap your hand over your head and look innocent, a time to play the banjo, a time to “put that goddam thing down!” etc.”
Here’s a carefully thought out example of shut-up time. Let’s say you’re selling a pig. (Those of the Vegemite inveiglement—who would never have a pig—pretend you awoke to a rogue porker rifling through your vinyl collection. The pig, hearing the cocking of the shotgun you keep beneath the covers, goes all oinky and drops a Best Of Air Supply album. You now have a pig with bad taste. All very humane, please pass the hummus. May I continue?)
Along comes a goober. He says “I see you have a pig for sale.” You say “Yup.” Big mistake. Can’t you see? He’s cleverly gotten you to admit that you have a pig for sale. Do you see where this is going? He knows you need him, i.e., the goober, but you don’t need the pig, i.e., the pig. As a trouser thief might say: You’re about to lose your pants.
The buyer takes full advantage of your blatherosity. Resist filling the lull with a sob story of how the pig once saved your life but things have gotten so bad you can’t even afford to buy the missus a pickup truck with tires so big it takes a village—maybe even a town–to change a flat.
Which means you either have to sell the pig or…
“I’ll take the pig off your hands,” says the clever goober, “if you throw in the missus.” Even before you can shout “Nope-a-mundo!” he adds “I’ll toss in a copy of ‘101 Favorite Limericks About Trucks With Big Tires.’”
Look, it’s just an example, but get your temptation insurance paid up. (Make sure you have an “Accidentally sold the missus” rider.)
Now, had you been shutting up, you could have stylishly vomited a small river of tobacco juice on goober’s shoes (eventually to trickle into the Chesapeake Bay and kill off a bushel of crab cakes—but, hey, that is not your concern.) If you don’t chew tobacco it’s considered good form to upchuck* last night’s spaghetti. It conveys the idea that you are not a man to trifle with. Nor will you ever be asked to judge the annual pasta fazool fest at the V.F.W.
Otherwise, you quickly explain the deal to the missus who, in disbelief, takes a hard look at the goober and the pig. Then at you. Back to the goober. You start reading aloud “There was an old man with a big truck…” She grabs your shotgun and says “Don’t move.”
She and the goober and the pig back up slowly toward the goober’s truck. She fires a warning shot. As they drive off she can be heard shouting “We’re gonna need us some bigger tires, Slim. And pants for the pig.”
*No Ralphs nor Chucks were harmed during the writing of this blog. This time.
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