Today I am going to share two tips with you that I have used many, many times. I have used them to stop arguments, to win arguments, to stop pushy sales people, to shut down “alpha male” loudmouths, to frustrate frustrating people, to stop myself from saying things I would regret and to keep from embarrassing myself. The list of ways that silence and “the look” have worked goes on and on.
I don’t say a word.
This sounds much easier than it really is. A good salesperson knows that after they make their pitch and ask you to buy, to shut their mouths. Often times, the first person to speak loses. Here is a tip on dealing with salespeople; if you’re not interested, don’t give any reasons or excuses, just say “no”. If you don’t shut them down with a “no”, you’ve given them more time to try and convince you.
This isn’t just true in sales; I have won arguments with people in different areas of my life by saying my piece and shutting my mouth. My goal here is to give my perception and not enter into the “tit-for-tat” type of argument that often occurs.
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.” ~ Proverbs 29:11
I try to live by this verse. I don’t always succeed, but thank God for His grace. Here is my theory on arguing; if your stance is correct and your argument is logical, make your point and be quiet. If two people are in an argument, odds are that emotions are heightened. You will, most often, not sway someone in an emotionally irritated state by a logical argument, even if it is the correct and right stance. Continuing to argue often leads to even higher emotional volatility, which can lead one to sin against the person they’re arguing with.
Trudee and I are blessed with having fewer heated arguments than I can count on one hand in the almost ten years we’ve been married. When one has happened, I say my piece and try to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes that has led to each of us feeling like we got to say what we felt needed to be said. Sometimes it has led to me vacating the same space so I can keep my mouth shut.
“It is better to be thought a fool, then to open ones mouth and remove all doubt.”
I have Asperger’s Syndrome. For those of you who don’t know, Asperger’s is a high functioning form of Autism. My social skills are pretty good for someone with Asperger’s, but I learned early in life that I don’t know how to respond in many social situations. If I don’t know how to respond and do anyway, many times it comes out awkward and forced. If I keep my yap shut, I might come off as quiet, stand-offish, or in some cases rude. I’ll take any of those instead of looking and feeling like a fool.
Where not saying a word works extremely well is with pushy people who aren’t taking “no” for an answer. Don’t keep saying “no”. Just say it and then stare at them in the manner I’ll describe below.
Women, please learn this! If you have a man who is making you uncomfortable, you do not need to explain yourself or worry about hurting his feelings or his opinion of you! He might call you the big bad “B” word! So what!? Your safety, self-respect and general well-being are far more important than him expressing his opinion of you!
The Look of Looks
Part of my Asperger’s Syndrome is a difficulty picking up on social queues; especially matching facial expressions with emotions. Because of this, I have spent hundreds of hours throughout my life studying and analyzing facial expressions. There is one look I have seen that is particularly effective that I have used countless times to great effect.
This expression is really a total lack of any expression. Your face is totally void of any emotion. Relax all of the muscles in your face; no clenched jaw, no grimace, no flared nostrils; just nothing.
To me, this expression conveys a sense of meaning business. I have seen it used by women to shut down pushy men, parents to stop a nagging child, men use it instead of posturing to let another man know they’ll not be taking any more crap and it’s time for them to back down.
I have actually used it in all of those situations (except I shut down a pushy woman) very effectively. Probably the funniest use of it was recently; I have an account rep at work who thinks his problems are the most important thing going on. He is a “hoverer” on top of it. He frequently shows up at people’s cubes and expects them to stop what they are working on to address his issue. I let him know I didn’t have time at that moment but would be able to help him in 30 minutes and then gave him the look. He didn’t know what to do! He just walked away! He hasn’t been back to my cube since.
To use silence and this look effectively, you have to be comfortable with the awkward silence that will follow. If you smile when you’re nervous, if you clench your jaw when angered, if you feel the need to power up to intimidate, or countless other things, you’ll need to train it out of you!