How will you know you are dealing with an Uncommunicative Clam? Simple. Silence prevails. You will be doing most of the talking if you plan on communicating. The Clam may be one of the most difficult of the difficult types of people you will encounter in business and life.
Clams are typically super-quiet and unresponsive – they just won’t talk. When you ask them questions, their responses are often, “Yep” or “Nope,” a grunt, or no response at all. Because of their silent style, it may be difficult to understand what their lack of response or persistent silence really means.
Why do they behave this way? Silence is usually frustrating to other people, so the motive might be calculated passive aggression. Or, a noncommittal way of handling stressful situations. You will do all the talking or leave. Or, it’s a method of evading the facts and sublimating their feelings. They may feel it is more expedient to keep their thoughts unspoken.
Here are some ways to cope with the Clam:
* Ask open-ended questions that require answers with more than a Yes or a No or a number.
* Use a friendly, silent stare which involves an expectant expression, a slight smile, eyebrows raised ad eyes wide open.
* Do not fill the silence, if possible, with your conversation. Use what I like to label, “the pregnant pause.”
* If they remain silent, comment on what is happening. “I expected you to say something and you haven’t – what does that mean?” End your comment with an open-ended question.
* Wait about ten seconds (count one one-thousand, two one-thousand silently to yourself up to ten). Then comment again and wait. You might say, “I’m waiting for your reaction and you’re silent. How do we get out of this bind?” – the open-ended question again.
* If the Clam says, “Can I go now,” respond: “Not yet, I still have some things on my mind.”
* If the Clam says, “I don’t know,” to your questions, say, “What else can you tell me?” Stay expectant and wait. If there is still no response, use the friendly stare, wait and finally comment, “This meeting seems to be at an impasse.”
* Ask, “Am I wrong to believe that you are feeling uncomfortable?” or “irritated” or “annoyed” or “angry”? Pause. “Well if you aren’t … what is the problem?”
* If there is still no response, end the meeting and set another definite date to meet.
* If the Clam remains silent, end with an assumption and your plan for moving forward: “I assume your silence means that you agree …” and indicate the steps you will be taking.
Source by B. J. Rakow, Ph.D.