We’re guessing that, at least once in your life, you’ve been the person giving the silent treatment or you’ve been the one on the receiving end.
Either way it’s not fun for anyone and is usually the signal of an argument approaching or an impasse on a difficult issue.
The silent treatment can be hard to overcome but we here at bestie are here to offer some helpful tips to try and resolve the sound of silence.
Maybe you’re not sure what the dreaded silent treatment is, so we thought it would be best to start you off with a bit of an explanation.
The silent treatment is basically being treated with nothing but silence for a short period of time. Usually a few days tops.
When someone hasn’t spoken to someone in many years that’s when a relationship has become estranged.
The silent treatment is when one person is aloof, and ignores the other’s words and emotions. Usually because the person is upset, hurt or frustrated.
It appears in many types of relationships including friends, co-workers, or with loved one. One thing we know for sure, is it’s no fun.
People can give the silent treatment for all kinds of reasons. The first and most common reason seems to be that someone feels too angry or too overwhelmed to deal with the issue in the heat of the moment.
When this happens, sometimes giving the person a moment to cool off, can be the best remedy.
It may be difficult to walk away from a heated moment, but it can do a world of good for both yourself, and the person giving you the silent treatment.
The second reason could be they’re using silence as a weapon. It can really feel like punishment or emotional abuse.
HEALTHLINE says it’s important to know when the relationship is toxic and that no one should be forced into dealing with this kind of negative behaviour.
“People who use the silent treatment as a means of control want to put you in your place. They’ll give you the cold shoulder for days or weeks on end to achieve those goals. This is emotional abuse.”
The American Psychological Association says that being subjected to this type of emotional abuse on a regular basis can harm your self-esteem and sense of well being.
It’s important to know the signs, and to reach out to a loved one or professional if you think you’re being subjected to this kind of abuse.
No one should have to deal with the silent treatment but if you find yourself on the receiving end, here are some steps you can take to get past this obstacle.
1. Find out why they’re giving you the silent treatment.
If someone has a hard time expressing themselves, especially when they’re mad that could be why they’ve clammed up.
It could also be the fact they’re worried about how you’ll react.
Knowing the reason for the silence could clear up a possible misunderstanding instead of snowballing into an argument.
2. Take some time and cool off.
Remember how when you were little people would say count to 10 when you’re angry, and then you’ll feel better?
It’s the same idea. Sometimes all we need is a moment to reset, and to think about the problem at hand.
This will also give you a moment to self reflect and decide if there was something you did to kick off this type of response.
Emotions can get the better of us sometimes and taking a break from an argument (as long as you resolve it later) could be a good idea.
3. Be calm and supportive.
This can be a bit difficult in the heat of the moment, but trying to empathize with someone might help you get to a solution faster.
If they truly want to fix the problem then it shouldn’t take much for the other person to be receptive to this approach.
If it turns out you’ve hurt that person, then take the necessary steps to talk it out, which could involve apologizing.
4. Don’t play into their game.
Communication is key to any responsible relationship and when someone shuts down all forms of communication it’s hard to move forward.
Sometimes a person is trying to force your hand or to get a reaction.
If you don’t allow this to happen, they’re less likely to resort to this type of defence the next time there’s an argument, since they won’t get the results they were hoping for.
5. Make an offer of reconciliation.
Reach out and make a peace offering, or a time and place to discuss the issue so you can both move on.
After you’ve each had time to reflect on the problem at hand, if you both want to move forward in whatever relationship this may be, they should be open to the offer of a solution.
6. The long term fix.
Hopefully at this point, by using all the tactics we’ve just listed, you’ve reconciled your differences and everything is hunky dory.
However, you want to make sure the lines of communication are open in the future so this doesn’t happen again.
It’s important to develop solid strategies moving forward and let the other person know that this type of behaviour isn’t acceptable.
Especially if they’re using the silent treatment to control you.
HEALTHLINE suggests taking turns listening to one another and repeating what the other person says to ensure both of you are clear on what is expected in the future.
If this behaviour persists after you’ve had this constructive conversations, it might be time to end the relationship.
If you’re in a romantic partnership with someone and the silent treatment is an issue, couples counselling can give you both a new set of tools to keep you both happy and communicating.
7. Take care of yourself.
When on the receiving end of the silent treatment it can be easy to blame yourself for all the wrong doings, especially if it’s happening within a romantic relationship.
You should both want to come to a solution and to stop the negativity that might be affecting you both.
Know the signs of an abusive relationship and keep your health and wellbeing top priority. Remember it’s not your job to fix someone else.
You can only help them, help themselves. It can be difficult but dealing with the silent treatment is possible.
Once you’ve outlined some boundaries and have explained how this behaviour is unacceptable, you will be on the road to a happier relationship with that person.
It might be difficult in the heat of the moment, but HEALTHLINE recommends some things you shouldn’t do when faced with the silent treatment.
Don’t react with anger, as this will only make things worse. As in any argument try to approach it with understanding, or take a moment to cool off before engaging with the other person.
Don’t apologize just for the sake of apologizing. It’s easy to see if an apology is sincere or not, and a bad one can do more harm than good.
If you’ve done something wrong, and have hurt the person then an apology might be necessary, otherwise don’t say sorry just to end the conversation.
Don’t take it personally. This is elaborating on the point about taking care of yourself. It’s not your fault the way others treat you.
Don’t internalize their actions. Don’t threaten to leave the relationship. Any kind of statement like this shouldn’t be mentioned unless you’re willing to followthrough.
This will only cause the relationship more pain, and distrust down the road if you use this tactic to win an argument. Even though it’s not fun, sometimes the silent treatment can be a big misunderstanding.
Hopefully with these tips we’ve provided you, you can navigate these silent waters with ease.
Remember to always talk to someone you love, or seek out a professional if you think someone is emotionally abusive.