Silence directs you to an even better opportunity. Told through a story of bullying and exclusion tactics.
Image Credit: JessicaBrooks/AMC
Have you ever sat down and thought about how powerful silence is?
It’s easy to get out of your chair and make a song and dance. It’s easy to blame and complain your way to feeling better. But it does absolutely nothing.
Seeking revenge doesn’t serve you. What if silence could do all the talking for you? Well it can.
A few years ago I was part of an account team at work. One of the customers we looked after decided to go out to the market and do an RFP (request for proposal aka tender).
About two months before, we were given the heads up that a tender was likely to occur. It was worth millions of dollars to our team. It could have made our year during a difficult period of growth for us.
I was excited to say the least. A week out, the tender was fast approaching. We had meetings, pre-meetings, and workshops to prepare. We wanted to be battle-ready.
Days passed. No tender in my email inbox. Something felt off.
I rang my colleague: “Hey mate, do you know when the tender is arriving?”
“It has arrived already. Let me forward it to you.”
I opened the email. The client had sent the tender via their online portal to another colleague. The email chain showed they had forwarded it to everybody on the account team, except me. As the only salesperson in the team it ripped my ego apart and left it on the floor for my imaginary dog to eat for dinner. I was heartbroken. I was angry. All the self-help lessons I had learned were out the window. I was worse than a raging alcoholic.
I was ready to tear apart the dreams of my conspirators. But I didn’t. I did what I always do: slept on it.
I woke up the next morning and felt a little less angry. I rang my Gandhi-like mentor. He said this:
Let your silence do the talking.
For the next two months the entire team had meetings to work through the tender. They spent hours and hours together, bonding… without me. It really hurt but I kept my silence.
Suddenly, my colleagues started asking questions like “Hey how come you’re not on any of the meetings?” I said nothing. I played dumb.
“Not sure mate. Lots happening over here, though.”
I continued to work away in silence. Because I wasn’t part of the deal team I had to go out and find deals myself to make up for it. My bonus wasn’t going to be gifted to me thanks to a tender where everybody gets invited.
So I went off and started looking for business in areas where nobody else was. The places I looked were places I had been told when I first joined the team to stay away from. Most of the leads were dead-ends. The prospects weren’t vaguely interested in anything I had to sell or the logo I worked for.
I scoured LinkedIn looking for a lead. I found a guy that looked helpful. I sent him a message and he agreed to a 15-minute phone call. Rather than pitch him I asked him for coaching on the sales opportunity I was chasing. He saw something in me and put in a good word for me with another decision-maker.
Through a series of chain reactions I ended up getting access to this large business opportunity that everybody who came before me had tried, and failed at.
Leaders in our business kept asking me why I was missing from all the tender action. They couldn’t understand it. I purposely left them with more questions than answers. These leaders were going to figure out the problem themselves and be wiser for it.
A few more weeks past and it came time for the tender process to wrap up. Our company had made it to the final round. Everybody was excited. My boss at the time sent out an email telling everybody that it wasn’t a matter of if, but when we would find out the good news about our huge win.
On the same day as this email I got another message asking me to hand over the opportunity in the CRM. As the only salesperson I was supposed to own the sales opportunities.
Everybody was so confident in winning the tender. The person who excluded me was the one that requested me to hand over the sales opportunity. This would mean if they won, I got nothing. This would mean my sales pipeline would be reduced by many millions of dollars.
It was a devastating thought. I felt like I was being punished. I again slept on this nightmare. The next day I handed over the sales opportunity — my boss gave me no choice.
The news finally came. After the client had worked with our company for more than six years on the tender they decided to go with two of our competitors, not just one. We got zero business. We were also in the box seat to lose the business we already had.
As always it came time for the client to give feedback.
“You lost because of the commercials. You didn’t understand the entire point of the tender which was to save money.”
What was ironic was that as a salesperson who had a relationship with the client, I was best placed to write the commercials and seek feedback to ensure we won.
I was also the only member of the account team that had worked in the client’s industry too. Everybody else was guessing how their industry operated and what they valued. Again, leaders kept asking “why wasn’t he part of the process?” I still said nothing.
Selfishness, bullying and exclusion never win you anything in your life.
You can only win when you collaborate with others to properly understand a problem.
By losing the tender, all of our jobs, including the person that excluded me, were put on the line. We all faced the prospect of being fired for not hitting our KPIs. All because of the selfishness of one person.
For me, I escaped the knife because the sales opportunity wasn’t in my name. Closing a deal that large, as lost, under your own name, came with huge ramifications and explanations. I dodged a career bullet.
The universe had my back the whole time.
Staying silent was incredibly difficult. The temptation to unleash and say “you stupid freaking idiot” was enormous. I took my mentor’s advice on silence and said nothing.
Here’s what you can learn from this powerful use of silence.
Silence Reveals the Truth
The reason to fall in love with silence is because it reveals the truth. Lies can only survive if nobody talks. And somebody always talks — and it doesn’t need to be you. You can let the truth do the talking for you.
I may have stayed silent but it was far better than getting into the battle arena and losing because of my inferior position in the corporate hierarchy.
Silence is the sword that strikes without you having to lift a finger.
The smarter you become, the less you speak.
Silence Directs You to an Even Better Opportunity
By being excluded from the tender, I found a better opportunity. The opportunity I found ended up being better than the tender I missed out on. When you think you’re losing it often means you’re actually being redirected to an even better win.
There are endless opportunities so don’t let one selfish person make you get loud and angry for no reason and burn your reputation to the ground.
Silence Allows You to Think Deeply About Your Life
I ended up gaining extra time to be alone and think about my career. I realized through being excluded that I was unhappy.
I spent the extra time reflecting and working out what I wanted. As a result I ended up launching several passion projects that I had been procrastinating on for years. If it wasn’t for the bullying and exclusion, plus the silence, I wouldn’t have found the time to think about my life in different ways.
Change comes when you have time to think.
Silence Means You Have More Energy
Do you know how much energy you waste my being loud and angry? A lot. It’s not worth it.
You’re better using the power of silence to save your energy than barking like a dog and hoping to have your ego fed from a dog bowl.
Value your energy more than you value being loud, and right.
Silence Can Bring You Peace
On the days where I was most frustrated I resorted to 10 minutes a day of meditation. It helped keep me calm and stop me from blowing my stack.
Silence equals peace. Value your peace over being loud and angry at people that would have cheated you regardlessly while wearing their best smile.
Selfish, insecure, liars will always find a way to cheat you. Let them. They’re only cheating themselves in the long run.
Silence Is Beautiful
There’s something beautiful about silence. Have you ever stood in a forest all by yourself and listened to the silence?
Your consciousness resonates at a different frequency with silence.
Silence shows you who you are. It’s just you, your thoughts, and the eerie sound of the background atmosphere you’re immersed in.
See the beauty of silence through practice.
Silence Shines the Light on Selfishness
Eventually, the people around me figured out what had occurred. The ugliness of selfishness was revealed.
People started to question whether we would have lost the tender if things were different and I was part of the team. We will never know.
Combined thinking always works better than the silo of one mind that thinks it knows all.
Silence Allows Reconciliation
This is the hardest part of this whole experience. It’s easy to sit in your ivory tower and think your shit doesn’t stink. It does.
The opportunity that came from my use of silence was to show compassion to those who chose to exclude me. The opportunity I had found while everybody was off working on a tender ended up being a decent-sized deal.
I could have kept the deal all for myself. The problem is I would have just been reinforcing the same selfishness that had hurt me so brutally.
I decided to share the sales opportunity with those who wronged me. This meant we all had a chance to make up the ground we had lost by losing the tender, together. It might seem crazy to some of you. The thing is, life is too short to worry about grudges and trying to be right.
You solve problems caused by selfishness and bullying when you take the bad behavior and turn it into something positive. Be the example of what is right in the world.
Silence shows you who you have the power to be.