Silent Treatment - A passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse in which displeasure, disapproval and contempt is exhibited through nonverbal gestures while maintaining verbal silence.
The silent treatment is a common way of displaying contempt for another individual while avoiding confrontation about that contempt or without giving the target of the contempt an opportunity to resolve the issue or dispute. The goal is typically to invoke FOG fear, obligation or guilt - in the mind of the target individual.
Note that just being quiet or declining to have a conversation is not the same thing as the SIlent Treatment. Many times, exiting a conversation is a healthy and constructive thing to do as part of a conflict resolution strategy, to exit a circular conversation, to escape verbal abuse or just to compose yourself. The SIlent Treatment is different from a time-out in the following ways:
The Silent Treatment is rarely a good approach to problem solving or problem resolution.
If you are on the receiving end of the silent treatment, it may be tempting to try to prod the person out of their silence. However, this is a form of control that rarely works. It is better to accept that the person is making a poor choice in their communication, accept that they have a right to be quiet and politely remove yourself from the "conversation" and the room if possible.
If you find yourself angry at another person and tempted to use the silent treatment on them, it is better to take the approach of having a healthy, constructive "Time-Out". You can give them a verbal "I" statement and then exit the conversation until you feel more productive, e.g. "I am feeling upset and don't want to talk right now. I'll discuss this with you tomorrow."
What NOT To Do:
Don't use the silent treatment on others. It rarely improves communication.
Don't escalate the situation or try to force a passive aggressive person who is using the silent treatment to snap out of it - you will likely turn them from passive aggressive to hostile aggressive.
Don't blame yourself for it. Silent Treatment is a poor choice of communication strategy and that is not your choice.
Don't stay in the same room or company of a person who is behaving in a passive aggressive way any longer than necessary.
Don't try to find a logical explanation for a personality-disordered person's strange behavior. IT's better to chalk it down to the mental illness and move on.
What TO Do:
If possible, turn a silent treatment into a time-out and use the time to go work on yourself.
Express your feelings using "I" statements - but only do this once. "I feel uncomfortable right now".
Exit the room or the environment so you can think more clearly without all the pressure.
Get Support from others who understand about personality disorders and can relate to what you are going through.
Remember that what the person is feeling is temporary and they will probably feel different in a few days or a few hours.
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