The silent treatment

Nov 27 2019

The silent treatment is about intentionally responding one’s fellow human being with silence in order to try to change his or her behavior in a desired direction.

Close to the ideas of upbringing as a valid reason, comes to respond someone with silence for to act out contempt, for revenge or for revenge transference.

Intentional silence can also be about not encouraging confused statements. But, sometimes what is not confused is intentionally responded with silence for to try making one’s fellow human being confused. This abuse of silence is similar to the silent treatment as an aspect of acting out contempt.

Further, to intentionally respond someone with silence can also be about confirming the value of the said – an encouragement to say more. Here the absence of verbal communication is most often accompanied by a neutral or encouraging body language.

To keep silent while someone has asked a question he or she is able to answer by him or herself means to validate that persons own capacity to find out. Used in its most friendly way, this variant of intentional silence is broken in a short while if the answer doesn’t come spontaneously: “Yes, what do you think?” or “I think you can find the solution to that question by your own.”

The psychotherapist always has to utilize silence with extra caution, if to reach the commonly agreed goal.

When unintentional, what might seem similar to the silent treatment can mean that the silent person is overloaded, speechless, unable to communicate, not allowed to communicate, doesn’t understand better, or has not been reached by the attempt to communicate.

When we want dialogue but are met with silence will we, depending on how important the dialogue is, for a shorter or longer period try to understand why we are met with silence. People who are struggling with constructive conflict resolution sometimes come here to seek revenge – silence against silence or any other form of retaliation – while those who are more thoughtful will seek to break the silence with calm verbal communication.

Further reading: Personal corruption