How to Disagree (Part III): Silence is the Space Between the Notes

Recently on an extended beach vacation, I demonstrated that I am among the best in the world at doing nothing.

I can do nothing all day long.

I don’t mean what a lot of people might think is nothing: watching a movie, reading, napping or cleaning a closet.

I really mean nothing. My companions can tell I am not catatonic because I will appear alert and observant and will reply to most questions. But, I will not move for hours except for the most basic of functions.

If I was practicing Zen, you would think it’s an art carefully honed over years of practice, but it’s not.

I am just naturally doing what I am best at: nothing.

So, it will come as no surprise that one of my favorite negotiation techniques is Silence. Silence in negotiation is doing nothing.

When does silence help? I use Silence in three main ways:

1. To give an air of suspicion, finality or drama after a definitive statement such as a settlement offer or liability assessment

2. To deal with an emotional person

3. When I am jammed and need time to come up with a creative solution

In the first case, when someone makes a ridiculous offer, a long silence can show your suspicion or frustration. After your incredibly fair and well-explained offer, the silence means you have ‘said it all’.

In the second case, after correctly identifying the person’s emotion and the reason for it, silence helps move the person to resolution by implying there is nothing else you can or will do.

It is the final case where silence is truly golden. In a study released by the Sloan School of Business at MIT, researchers found silence improves outcomes for all parties to a negotiation. 

“When put on the spot to respond to a tricky question or comment, negotiators often feel as though they must reply immediately so as not to appear weak or disrupt the flow of the negotiation,” said the study. “The research suggests that pausing silently can be a simple yet very effective tool to help negotiators shift from fixed-pie thinking to a more reflective state of mind…which in turn, leads to the recognition of golden opportunities to expand the proverbial pie and create value for both sides.”

Many people think of Negotiation as an Art, and I am one of them. The great artist and composer Claude Debussy said, “Music is the space between the notes.”

In negotiations, silence is the space between the offer and the acceptance, the Space Between the Notes.

My mom always said someday I would elevate doing nothing to an Art Form.

And now, I have. 

How to Choose a Claim’s Management Software

There are quite a few claims management software systems out there. How do you choose? Each company needs to make the right decision for them and what’s best for their team. If you are considering Claim Toolkit for your software needs, here are some things to know about us that could help! 


Claim Toolkit has been in business since 1997, with our founders/owners still very much involved in the day-to-day operations. Both came from P&C insurance companies so saw what the industry was missing and decided to create a company. The business has been in full swing ever since and every year we continue to bring on new customers as well as serving existing ones. We ask what our customer’s need so we can enhance our products to P&C insurance adjuster’s needs. Feedback has been an essential factor in our enhancement and creation of new products. 


We get asked quite frequently what insurers use our products. Though we can’t disclose names, we can tell you that some of our clients have great commercials! We also have customers that are smaller, local companies that are just as important to us. Big or small, we love our customers – they keep our wheels rolling!


No matter the size of the company or their current software, our products integrate seamlessly. All of our products are web-based application that are specific to the company using them. In the last couple of years we have even started to do single sign-on’s to make it even easier for claims adjusters to hop on our applications. They may not even realize that Claim Toolkit is a separate product/company because of this integration. We want to make it as seamless as possible to get your adjusters up and running using the product so their job is easier and more efficient. 


For the amount of adjusters using our products, you’d be surprised how few questions we get about how to use our products. We have hover help, so if you don’t know what something means just hover over it for an explanation. Our compliance product, which can be overwhelming to look at because of the amount of information, has a search tool! The adjuster doesn’t need to know exactly what a chart is called but can type in a key word and the charts related to that word will populate so they can select the correct one they are looking for. Don’t worry though, we provide training on all of our products – whether you’ve been a customer for years or you’re brand new! 


If you’re considering a claims management software system for your audit, auto or compliance needs – we can help! There is never any harm in learning more about how your company can become more efficient. In fact, we just signed a customer that reached out to us years ago but at that time decided to go with a different company. Sometimes, it takes comparing to realize that Claim Toolkit is what you need! Claim Toolkit was created by claims professionals for claims professionals, so maybe we can help you! 

Bringing the Most Up-To-Date Laws

On our website it states that our applications are updated over 20 times every business day with new laws and regulations. A common question we get it – is that true? It is! It’s probably double that at the moment with all the changes in each state due to COVID. The follow up question to that is – How?


Our typical response is that we have a lot of spreadsheets! But now we think it’s time for us to give you a behind the scenes look on our updating secrets. Are you ready?


1. We do have a lot of really good spreadsheets that we work off of. They can overwhelming at times because of the amount of information on them but they are an amazing tool. I’m sure you’re thinking…what information is on them? Great question! For each state, we keep track of active emergency orders and directives with the expiration dates and the corresponding links to websites where they information is kept. EVERY SINGLE DAY we go into that website and see if any new regulations have come out that impact the P&C insurance industry. Our spreadsheets keep track of expiration dates so we know when a regulation is expiring and know to look to see if there’s an extension. Yes, we do this every single day! 


2. We have a compliance team. Companies that have lawyers typically have lawyers to protect their business, but our team is a little different. Our team of attorneys review laws and decide which ones are applicable in our industry and then put them into simple terms for anyone to understand. Again, updating our applications for any changes in laws or enhancing our products by adding new content! Here’s a secret…what is an attorney’s least favorite season? Bill season! Could you imagine having to read 100 bills that were just signed to find what impacts the P&C insurance industry? Woo, what a job our team has! 


3. Our entire team is dedicated to keeping up with changes that impact claims adjusters. It’s our full-time jobs! Every day we check governor’s news, state news, etc. to see if there is anything that our customers need to know. If so, we update our applications! It really is a full time job keeping all the information up to date. Claim’s adjusters have to know so much and work with customers everyday, so we pride ourselves on keeping information up to date so an adjuster can just hop on the application and find their answer – quick and easy! Hunting down laws and regulations shouldn’t be what they spend hours doing. That’s why Claim Toolkit was invented! 


So yes, we really do update our applications over 20 times a day! I think most of us at Claim Toolkit have learned more than we ever thought possible about P&C insurance laws and regulations because of this! Why hunt down the information if we already have it in a database, ready to go? Out motto is, “Your team needs the right information so they can make the right decision, right now,” – and now you know how we hold true to that! 

The Most Important Question to Ask

When taking a statement, many of us don’t pay attention to the answer to the most important question. Or, we might not ask it at all.

In training, investigators FLETA, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy, says the most important question is the “Framing Question”:

“In your own words, can you tell me what happened?”

That’s it! Sounds easy, right? It is anything but.

The skill comes when you listen intently to the answer and respond – after they have finished – with follow up questions.

You must not interrupt the person. Allow them to completely ‘play back’ the memory. Encourage them to keep talking until there is nothing more they have to say. It turns out our brains best recall things if we can speak without stopping.

Take good notes. Look for holes where follow up question are needed. In Auto Liability, listen for speed, look out and avoidance. After they have finished, ask why questions: Why did you not slow down? Why did you not see the other vehicle? Why did you not attempt to change lanes or take other avoidance maneuvers? Why could you not avoid this crash?

In injury claims, listen carefully to descriptions of the injuries and the causes of them. Follow up with questions like: Why did you not immediately seek treatment? What visible signs of injury were there immediately after the crash? When did you know you were hurt?

FLETA studies and their deep experience shows that the most accurate, complete and truthful answers are given the first time the question is responded to, and the quality of the memory and testimony degrades both by the day and the number of times the story is retold.

So, be quick to take the statement and get it right the first time. 

The key point of the ‘Framing Question’ is that by allowing your interviewee to fully play back the description of the incident without interruption, they will be more truthful and more likely to include their own culpability in the statement.

FLETA trains every investigator to ask this question FIRST – before even the identifying information: that’s how important they think the question is.

What’s the most important question?

“In your own words, can you tell me what happened?”