We hear so much about physical abuse and emotional abuse and yet so many don’t realise that ‘silent treatment’, whether it’s in the workplace or between spouses, is a form of passive-aggressive abuse. If your colleague has been snubbing or ignoring you, refusing to make eye contact or respond to your attempts at friendship, remember that these people want to make you uncomfortable. They know you’re miserable and that you’ll do everything in your power to get them speaking with you again. Most people don’t see this trap and fall right into it. There is no point ruining your own health and peace of mind because another person has decided they don’t want to speak with you. The silent treatment is not bad in itself. Sometimes, one needs to put enough distance between oneself and the other person to be able to calm down, convey the message that they have wronged us in some way and be able to collect our thoughts & arguments. THE DANGER BEGINS WHEN WE ALLOW THIS HABIT TO CONTINUE, irrespective of whether we’re the perpetrator or the victim. If we’re sulking with a spouse/friend/colleague and start giving them the silent treatment, we must know where to draw the line and get things back on an even footing. Because if we let this dangerous habit continue unmonitored, it’ll destroy the relationship and ultimately our own well-being. If you’re at the RECEIVING end of the silent treatment (at home or work), do your best to open the channel of communication. If you’ve hurt the other person, apologise. They may be wrong too, but you can point that out a little later, once they’ve thawed. Despite your best efforts if they continue with their childlike behaviour, you owe it to yourself not to spend a single sleepless night worrying about it any more. Don’t give them the pleasure of being miserable. And if you’re GIVING the silent treatment to someone (whether it’s a spouse or colleague), remember that this habit will harm you more than the other person. Because while you’re sulking/hurting, the other person is probably having the time of her/his life. I’m amazed & horrified how some people think the Silent Treatment is an effective technique. It’s not. In fact, it’s one of the worst long-term communication tools. Master communicators may occasionally use this strategy, but it’s mainly to give themselves some breathing space and to convey disapproval. But they’re smart enough to know when to stop this cold war and salvage the relationship. Say NO to prolonged silent treatment. Speak up! This is a form of abuse. We need to recognise this and save either the relationship or ourselves before it’s too late. Nim Gholkar, 2017

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