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Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

All of us, at some point in our life, has either been the recipient or the presenter of THE SILENT TREATMENT. No one really likes it but we have to admit, it can be used as a powerful tool to close a deal or get one’s way. But it can be a symptom of a communication/relationship breakdown.

PART 1:  WHEN THE SILENT TREATMENT IS EFFECTIVE

ONE:  As a parent I admit I am a yeller. I yell, and Yell, and YELL! My kids are used to the yelling. Most of the time I’m just being vocal because I’m frustrated, and they don’t listen to the yelling. It’s just white noise to them.

But when I’m angry! Really, really angry… I get quiet… and then they’re scared because that silence is LOUD. Generally, their behavior snaps to good, they clean up, and they’re trying to make mom happy again because mom’s silence is SCARY. They’ll say anything to get you to talk “You still love me, don’t you, mommy?”

TWO:  Closing the deal. Whether you’re a salesperson or selling an idea to your spouse, the silent treatment is an absolute must-have skill because the first one to speak generally caves in.

Example 1:
salesperson: So what do you think?

customer: [silently thinking “how will I explain the motorcycle purchase to my wife?]

salesperson gets nervous: “We can take an extra 10% off for being a loyal customer

customer: [silence. 10% off, I can justify that to my wife] salesperson nervous about losing the sale gives other incentives…and his commission isn’t nearly as good.

The salesman caved because he spoke first.

Example 2:
salesperson: So what do you think?

customer: [silently thinking]

salesperson: [silently waiting tick tock, tick tock]

customer: I’ll take it.

DEAL CLOSED.

Example 1:
child: Mommy, can I have that shiny new Tonka truck, please?

mom: No. I don’t want to spend the money.

child: [Throws a tantrum, makes a lot of noise. Mother is TICKED!]

DEFINITELY NO TOY

Example 2:

child: Mommy, can I have that shiny new Tonka truck, please?

mom: No. I don’t want to spend the money

child: [forlorn but quietly accepts the decision. He’s sad but he smiles with hope in his eyes every time you look his way.]

mom: SIGH you’ve been so good. Go ahead and get your truck.

WIN FOR THE KID!

Tell me I’m wrong?

In these cases, the silent treatment gives the other party time to think about the decision. Too many people are uncomfortable with the silence. They need an immediate answer or instant gratification so they talk first to plead the case. Little do they realize they are sabotaging themselves.

Now in the case of sample B: with the little boy. Even if mom sincerely couldn’t afford the toy right then and there, you can bet she was probably thinking how much he deserved it for being so good so the next trip out she might surprise him with it. Am I wrong?

PART 2: WHEN THE SILENT TREATMENT IS BAD

As I mentioned in Part 1, we’ve all used the Silent Treatment to close a sale or get our way, but there are times when this powerful tool is used for evil.

Q: How can being silent be bad?
A: When there is a lack of communication or relationship breakdown.

When people are in a relationship one would hope they’ve learned how to meaningfully communicate with each other. Sometimes this is not the case.

A case of the empty nest: An example might be two very busy people with jobs, kids, house duties…and they haven’t REALLY spoken to each other in years except to pass off messages: Pick the kids up from school; Please pick up milk on your way home, etc. Then once the kids are gone you have nothing to talk about. Sometimes that silence is unbearable.

A case of emotional abuse: A: When in the midst of a discussion and it gets heated, especially when there is a disagreement, and one person turns away and gives the silent treatment/cold shoulder – it is a break in communication. It is a physical manifestation of denying the existence or opinions of the other person. Said that way, it’s hurtful when that happens, isn’t it?

If you feel like you’re being nagged and you ignore them because you KNOW it drives them crazy. You have stopped communicating and now you are being passive-aggressive.

But how is being quiet wrong?
1. Perhaps because you are not dealing with the reason WHY they might be nagging at you. Perhaps you don’t want to be blamed, acknowledge that you have faults, or feel guilty about not following through on something you promised.

2. Now there is the other scenario where the silent treatment is implemented because you feel like you don’t have a voice in the relationship so you shut up just to get away from “the discussion” as soon as possible.

If you don’t have a voice in a partnership then it is not a healthy one! There is no healthy dialogue and you don’t feel like your opinion counts. If that happens, then your self-esteem plummets.

3. Using the silent treatment as a form of manipulation. For example, at a party: “Well, since my boyfriend isn’t talking to me then I’m just going to ignore him the ENTIRE night. Maybe I’ll just go talk to that cute boy over there.” – or – “If she really cares about me then she’s going to ask what’s wrong.”

The one who plays the silent treatment card is assuming the other person can read their mind.

Guess what?
We can’t read your mind!

HEAL THE COMMUNICATION GAP

To heal the communication gap it’s always best to acknowledge it. “I am too angry to talk about this right now. Let’s try to discuss this when we’re both calm. I need time to think.”

“I don’t feel like you’re listening to what I have to say so I’m going to walk away right now.”

Even a “Please let me know when it’s my turn to talk” is better than shutting up in these cases.

If you are using it for manipulation then acknowledge that! Speak up. “Hey, I don’t feel comfortable standing at the party by myself. Can you introduce me to some of your friends?”

“We should talk” works and be willing to be quiet and actively listen!  It’s much healthier than closing your mouth and your ears!

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Having been married twice and in several varying length relationships in my 40-something years, I can’t say that I’m an expert in relationships but I can tell you that from my experience any long-term affair has to hit three distinct spots at the same time:

  1. Your O-zone Physical attraction is definitely important! You want to be compatible in the sack because sloppy sex is just bad – and who wants to stick around for that??? Okay, sometimes the first time with a partner is…not good because of nerves or whatever, but no one likes bad nooky on a regular basis. Are they paying attention to your O-zone at least once in a while? (And we’re not talking about the “honeymoon” phase when sex is like Adventures in Candy Land).
  2. Your Heart This is kind of a no-brainer but your partner has to give your heart a little skip. Love is important but it’s fickle. You have to LIKE the person too. Sure – you won’t like them ALL the time but more often than not you’re happy to see them. Or, perhaps, a random memory pops in your head and makes you giggle. Do you miss them when they’re not at your side? Your heart is the emotion so you want to listen to it – but it can’t be the only factor.
  3. Your Head If your partner isn’t stimulating your brain then what the heck are you going to talk about when the sex goes away? Do you have anything in common? Any shared interests? Something has got to get you through the drought periods in the relationship (and trust me – there are many) and being able to communicate with each other is definitely a key to relationship longevity.

Sex is good but after a while it kind of fizzles out and goes away. Emotions change so you can’t just go with your heart all the time. If you’re only attracted to their brain then you may as well shake hands and call them friend.

Husband #1 is the perfect example. He had my heart and o-zone but I had to “dumb it down” for him. We had nothing in common and when the kids started coming eventually he was getting his o-zone taken care of by someone else – which of course, killed my heart.  End of relationship.

For a long-lasting partnership you must have all three because one or two out of the three just won’t get you through the challenging times. I know.  I’ve been there.

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