If you asked my sisters what I was great at as a teenager, they’d say “she could stop talking to you for days”.
At university I stopped talking to my roommate for 2 weeks because he sprayed glow in the dark liquid on my door, there were some other great reasons I stopped talking to him too... like he’d managed to break into my room first to do it.
If you had a competition with me of “who could stop speaking to each other for the longest”, I’d win.
I held a gold medal in it.
I was a champion at THE SILENT TREATMENT.
Looking back, knowing everything I know now, I feel disgusted at myself, I feel sorry for my younger self but mainly I think
I wish I knew then what I know now.
How easier and more enjoyable my life would be!
I’m going to share with you what I know, in case it makes a difference to you.
Now, you may be thinking...
I don’t hold the world record for THE SILENT TREATMENT.
That’s absolutely fine, this still applies to you, because maybe when you’re angry you...
Scream and shout!
You say nothing. You do what you’re told.
Cry and eat ice cream whilst watching Netflix.
At some point, someone says something, and you react.
It might be because of your partner, a colleague, your child, a friend.... the man who clearly can’t drive!
Someone does or says something and you don’t like it.
Let’s take the classic, road rage.
You’re driving along and all of a sudden someone cuts you up and speeds off.
You think “You f*cking idiot!” (or maybe you're outspoken with your reaction... along with a few hand gestures).
For the rest of the day, you might feel shaken up, angry, frustrated... and you think about it all week. Everyone you see, you tell them all about this idiot who cut you up.
Every time you do that; you think about it or tell someone about it, you relive the moment. The anger and frustration all come flooding back.
You see it’s like you eat the poison and expect the other person to die.
You suffer. And the other person?
They may not even know that you are hurt.
Or maybe they don’t really care.
Or perhaps they think it’s your fault, and so they are blaming you …
Someone does or says something to you, and you react expecting them to hurt like they hurt you.
If you’ve read a lot of our content, you’ll know by now, this is just another human survival thing, that used to keep us safe... now we have absolutely no use for it. Except we think we do.
It causes us more misery than it helps us out.
Why did I reside my reign as the champion of silent treatment?
1. It made no difference when I reacted that way, in fact, it made things worse.
I have never once received the satisfaction of having someone genuinely apologise for what they did. They didn’t understand what they did to upset me (sometimes they didn’t even know I was upset!), they didn’t see how it had impacted me (or them) and they continued to do the same behaviour.
2. I felt like Sh*t.
It would completely ruin my day. I’d have to keep up this high level of annoyance. It was sooo tiring! Do you know how much energy it takes to be angry at someone? A LOT.
Again, me being in a bad mood... made no difference.
3. The poison would eek into other areas of my life.
You know what it’s like being around someone who’s moody, angry, frustrated... it’s not pleasant.
That’s what friends and family had to put up with.
I was spreading misery to other people.
It made no difference; in fact, it made things a bit worse.
I decided that I was done with this way of behaving.
What was the point when it made things worse? It didn’t resolve anything.
So, what did I do about it?
I’d notice I was doing the same old thing...
I’d observe myself, getting the same butterflies in my tummy, the feeling of anger rushing all over me. I felt ready to fight.
I’d think “How dare you do this to me!” “Who do you think you are.” “I’ll show you!”
Just as I was about to do the same thing I’d normally do...
I’d catch myself...
I’d think “Here I go again.” “Am I willing to feel crappy for the rest of the day?” “Am I willing to keep putting up with the same behaviour (from them and me)?”
“Or do I want to do something different?”
Create a new habit... I’d take a moment or two Truth be told, when I first started, it could take me a day or two... I’d say to the person:
What I didn’t like with what they said or did
How it made me feel
What I’d like them to do going forward
It felt strange at first. Something new. Then I started to see that I no longer spent days or weeks caught up in anger and frustration.
The relationship between us started to change. They no longer carried on doing what they always did (that would annoy me).
I felt like I could express myself!
I brought this into all areas of my life.
When I started to notice I was reacting to something someone did or said,
Tell them with clarity what was going on for me.
Which relationships did I strengthen? All of them.
Listen, if you are reading and think, "Sh*t, I do this, I scream and shout or stop talking to people... where do I start?"
Don't worry. It’s about practice.
The problem is this: You read this article and then you forget about it and maybe never hear about it again.
Everything stays the same. Nothing changes.
If you know you have constraints in your communication AND you want to be a successful leader - be willing to work on yourself and get the support you need!
Working on yourself is where the gold is.
We help leaders, like you, be free to be themselves so they can be clear and assertive in their communication at work.
Are you ready to grow as a leader?
Book a call with us here to learn more about our Licence to Lead program.
You will be coached in situations and experiences you’re dealing with in your day to day work;
Allowing you to see how you are interacting with your team members
Discover new ways of responding in challenging situations
Creating new practices for YOUR life!
You can use these tools in all areas of your life; as a support for your growth, peace of mind and relationships with others.
Andra and Becca