Aug 27, 2014
SHOW NOTES: In our HELP! SITUATION SPOTLIGHT™ series, we shine the light on challenges that community members have shared. This episode is, “I am being subjected to ‘The Silent Treatment’ from someone. How do I handle it?”
This is a challenging subject as many of us would prefer to remain silent about “the silent treatment” (ouch). Yet, we cannot do so. We prefer our aggression served out loud so that we are able to hear it. When we are confronted with aggression masquerading as innocent activity, it is slithery and elusive. When exactly did it start? Are we imagining it? Is silence really deafening or are we simply too sensitive?
In this show we discuss ‘the silent treatment’ at work and in our personal lives. These two questions will be our guides irrespective of the setting.
1) How much are you invested in the person?
2) How much are you invested In the relationship?
What is ‘the silent treatment’? Maybe I am simply imagining it? Or, perhaps I am confused and mistake a quiet person for an act of aggression?
The silent treatment is a form of aggression. It is not your imagination. It is not you being too sensitive. It is not that some people are quiet (as quiet people are not entirely silent, they simply speak less loudly and less often).
Specifically, this behavior is passive-aggression. “Passive aggression is aggression by “not doing” — and deliberately not communicating or giving someone the “silent treatment” is one of the more common forms of it. And passive-aggression can be one tool in an arsenal of weapons that people use to manipulate and/or abuse others.” (http://askthepsych.com/atp/2010/09/09/is-the-silent-treatment-a-form-of-abuse/)
Why does a person use ‘the silent treatment’?
In general, because they want to and they are allowed to (please access Episode 114 where I discuss this issue). Specifically, “The silent treatment is a passive-aggressive action where a person feels bad but is unable to express themselves. Their being 'silent' is never a silent act. It generates what the sulker wants. Attention and the knowledge others are hurt. Plus a feeling of power from creating uncertainty over how long the ‘silence’ will last. Some therapists see this kind of social rejection purely as poor communication. Others are more concerned by it, viewing it as a form of control or even abuse. […]
Whether they have learned this in the past or present, if they repeatedly engage in this behaviour as an adult this is something they are making a deliberate choice to do. Even if they feel like they have no control over their feelings or actions. This is particularly important to remember if you are prone to try and ‘fix’ things in the relationship or if you feel you have done something to cause them to withdraw. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/10020662/Silent-treatment-how-to-snap-him-out-of-it.html)
How do I handle ‘the silent treatment’?
As I share in this show, you don’t. I have dealt with being a victim of aggression via the silent treatment and it is very effective (in getting attention for the aggressor and for inflicting pain on the victim). As the victim has no relationship to the behavior (we didn’t cause it, we don’t control it, we can’t fix it), all we can do is identify it, acknowledge it and accept it. It is like [...]
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