The power of Silence

When Thomas Alva Edison received an offer from the Western Union company for the ticker he had invented, he was undecided what price to ask. He requested for a couple of day time to think about the matter. Edison and his wife talked it over thoroughly and Mrs. Edison suggested that he ask for $20,000. Edison thought it an exorbitant figure. But on the appointed day, he went to the Western Union Office ready to ask for the amount. “Well, now, Mr. Edison”, the Western Union representative said after he had greeted him. “How much do you want?” Edison tried to say $20,000, but it still seemed to him an outrageous demand and he could not utter it. He hesitated, and then he stood speechless before the Western Union official. In the quiet that followed, the official waited restlessly for Edison to answer. Still Edison did not speak.

The impatient businessman was unable to tolerate silence of this nature for long. He said “ How about…….?

1. What was the amount quoted by the businessman? 2. What is the implication of this story? 1. The businessman quoted a Hundred Thousand Dollars. 2. Clearly it was Edison who benefited from the silence and the Western Union company that lost. 3. The company’s representative lacked the patience to wait for a reply.

People in business have a tendency to say what they want to say without waiting to listen to the other person. We prefer to conclude business transactions as expenditiously as possible. Listening to silence calls for some patience many simply cannot remain quiet for long.

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