Letting others’ imagination run wild is a powerful tactic that people direct against themselves. Tension in a negotiation is generally created by one’s mind. The “monkey brain” discussed by Buddhists deals with how a negotiation can be stressful, frustrating, ambiguous, complex, and confusing all at once. When the other side gives us a pause, it gives our minds the chance to run wild. In adversarial proceedings, less information is more.
Negotiator 1: “You owe me money. Pay up now. You infringed on my rights.” Negotiator 2. “Really? You will be hearing from us in a letter.” Negotiator 1: “What does that mean?” [Thinking of counterclaims.] Negotiator 2: “You will be hearing from us in a letter.” Negotiator 1: [I wonder if…]
The timing of this tactic is important. It comes down to how much paranoia is at work, and who has more stamina and mindfulness. The tension may be broken by a comparatively easy offer. Knowing yourself and the other side will help gauge the effectiveness of this tactic.