Learn to Go Sicilian: The Strategic Power of Silence in Negotiations

Andrea Zanon Confidente
3 min readDec 30, 2023
Source: Charles de Gaulle

Mastering communications and silence are tools that can increase your success and efficiency manifolds.

In negotiations, the ability to use silence as a powerful tool is an art often underestimated. To truly master the dynamics of negotiation, we can draw inspiration from the Sicilian culture. The Sicilian approach to communication, characterized by thoughtful pauses and non-verbal cues, holds great lessons for becoming more effective negotiators. As I am Italian, I can assure that the majority of Sicilians tend to be quieter and master the use of limited words.

Silence as a Strategic Weapon: Imagine a negotiation room where words hang in the air, full of unspoken possibilities. This is the essence of the Sicilian approach, a strategic deployment of silence to create a canvas for unspoken dynamics. Silence is not merely the absence of words; it’s a potent weapon that can be leveraged to influence the flow and outcome of negotiations. Strategically interspersing moments of silence within a negotiation can be disconcerting for the other party, creating an atmosphere of anticipation. In these long pauses, the mind of the counterpart races to fill the void, often revealing more than intended. The power lies not only in what is said but equally in what is left unsaid.

Creating Leverage through Silence

The Sicilian approach teaches us that silence is not passive; it’s a form of communication in itself and often gives the quiet person a higher communication authority. By allowing intentional pauses, negotiators can create a sense of discomfort that prompts the other party to disclose more information or make concessions. It’s in these moments of discomfort that leverage is born. Consider a scenario where a crucial decision hangs in the balance. The adept negotiator, channeling the Sicilian approach, might strategically introduce a silence, creating a pause filled with the weight of the decision. This tactical silence can tilt the balance, nudging the counterpart to reveal intentions or concede ground.

Learn to Go Sicilian

Sicilian culture places great importance on the nuances of communication, with thoughtful pauses being an integral part of the conversational dance. Adopting elements of…

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Andrea Zanon Confidente

International sustainable development consultant and empowerment specialist