When the Silent Treatment Kills

Many people practice silence when faced with distress, frustration and other kinds of emotional pain. Taking time out to think and reflect on a situation can be a wise choice, especially if you want to gather your thoughts and gain some objectivity.  However silence can also be used as a murder weapon, a very passive aggressive way of punishing someone, or making them feel insignificant.  This Anger style is a learned behavior often modelled by parental figures during childhood.

There are many terms to describe this Silent Anger. It’s been referred to as “giving the cold shoulder, to malice, to be aloof, go ignore, not on speaking terms, silent treatment, to shun and many others. However we choose to describe it, it can be a very painful experience when someone’s silence makes us feel punished and insignificant.

To give someone the Silent treatment is one way of conveying “I am angry with you” however it does nothing to solve problems and work through the issue in question.  When silence is practiced with the intention of punishing someone, it can trigger anger in others and cause them to inflict more of the behaviour you hate.

If you are an individual who has developed this Anger habit, and use silence to address conflict by punishing others, it may be time to consider more effective means of problem solving. When conflict has occurred in any relationship, it is an opportunity work out differences. When we withhold our thoughts and emotions from others, it prevents opportunities to work through those problems and grow. Many times, people who use silent anger to punish others do so subconsciously and don’t even realize the damage it is causing in their relationships. It becomes their default reaction to many areas of their lives they have emotional pain.

Here are some options for giving up this Silent Anger and moving towards positive problem solving’

  1. Try to recall how you have felt in the past when others have done the same to you. How did it make you feel? Did it do anything to make the relationship more productive?
  2. Be mindful about the habit..of getting silent and withdrawing.
  3. Break the habit by quickly letting others know when you have a problem with them.
  4. When tempted during the problem solving process to retreat, keep in mind the goal of anger is to resolve problems and remind yourself keeping silent works against you.
  5. Practice this over and over again and in various areas of your life including work, family, social circles etc.

If you struggle with this Anger style and seriously looking for ways to break it in order to develop healthier relationships, we have Counsellors, and coaches that can assist you. Do call us at 1-866-512-2275 or email us at info@angermanagement.ca

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