July 17th, 2012
Is The Silent Treatment an effective way to communicate?
Do you have someone in your life, maybe yourself, who uses the Silent Treatment as a way to punish or control?
There are many people who use the “silent treatment” as a way to communicate. This heavy silence can communicate displeasure, confusion, an exertion of power or a myriad of other options. It can be a very effective way to "punish" a friend, spouse or family member.
And sometimes we can misinterpret the silent treatment as a message when we later find out that the person simply forgot to reply or was sick or had some other really good reason to not respond! That is sort of interesting. Then we have to look at what we are making this silence mean. In fact, we can always look at what we are making this silence mean. If someone is trying to control us through silence, they can't do this without our permission.
My observation of this style of communication is that although it DOES communicate very well, it does not permit real connection. It keeps true connection at bay and this may be the purpose. It can be incredibly frustrating to try to engage with someone who refuses to discuss an issue and can actually cause the other person ( the non-silent one) to attempt to engage even more because they get so panicky about losing the relationship. Although I am a big proponent of looking at what is bothering me in any given situation and to not blame or attack the other person, it can be helpful to sit down and talk openly if the miscommunication has reached a difficult level.
Sometimes, it can be most useful to meet with a third party to discuss these issues. There can be so much emotion involved with leaving issues unresolved over a long period of time that a third party can help keep the conversation on track and can guide both parties towards the common purpose of mutual connection and to see the shared interests among both parties.
If you feel as though you are in this situation please get some help. There is no need for your relationship to break down over fear of communication. Through honest and open communication, and by owning what are our issues in any given situation, we can reach a state of connection and love in all relationships.