Silent Treatment

Cinergy Coaching by Cinnie Noble

One of the ways that some people manage conflict is by using the ‘silent treatment’. This expression refers to “Maintenance of aloof silence toward another as an expression of one’s anger or disapproval”. The same source says this phrase is “a deliberate discourteous act”.

There may be a number of reasons for using the silent treatment – and some intentions may be like those for letting the other person “stew in her or his own juices”. Here are some possible reasons. People who use this method may want to intentionally assert power over another by creating an untenable situation such that the other person has no choice or recourse. Or, the silent treatment may be used when people have no other idea of how to respond to something that upset them. Or, they may be afraid their temper will prevail and lead to unnecessary conflict. Or, they may be too hurt, unforgiving, or uncaring. They may be lacking confidence or self-esteem.

Carrying on this theme then of rebuffing others with silence, this week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog explores this method of managing conflict. You may be someone who uses it or someone on the receiving end.

Under what circumstances do you give another person the silent treatment, if you do?

If you do not refer to a lack of response to someone with whom you are in conflict as the silent treatment, how may you describe your reaction?

Thinking of one situation, what were you trying to achieve by the silent treatment or your description of your reaction in the previous answer?

What did you accomplish by this approach? What did you not accomplish?

What do you experience when you give/gave the other person the silent treatment?

What are (were) you thinking about the other person at these times? What are (were) you thinking about yourself?

What do you suppose the other person is experiencing on the receiving end of your silence?

When you are on the receiving end of silent treatment, what is that like for you?

What fills the silence for you at these times?

When is silent treatment a benefit? What makes it so? When is it not a benefit? What makes it so?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

                        author

Cinnie Noble

Cinnie Noble is a certified coach (PCC) and mediator and a former lawyer specializing in conflict management coaching. She is the author of two coaching books: Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY™ Model and Conflict Mastery: Questions to Guide You. MORE >

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