The Silent Treatment can be one of the most painful treatments known to man or woman. Nothing hurts more than when we do not receive a response after asking a question or requesting an answer.
Recently my son tried to tell me a joke (It was actually like 300 hundred jokes and by joke 301 I was done.) After politely telling him I was tired of “laughing so much” and that I needed some quiet time, the jokes kept coming.
I would also like to interject that they were the jokes of a 5-year-old and revolved mostly around farts, butts, and “dummy heads.” So instead of replying to his 301st joke, I ignored him and focused solely on driving home, while he drove me crazy.
Well, this did not stop his attempts. In fact, it made him shout the desperate and increasingly unfunny jokes. With no response from me, anger took over his humor and he began kicking my seat. There was clearly nothing funny about this show on the road.
We were almost home when the kicking started. As soon as we hit the driveway, I put the car in park. I turned around and asked my now-fuming 5-year-old, “Why are you kicking my seat?”
“You didn’t listen to my jokes,” was his angry answer.
“I listened to your jokes for the last 45 minutes. You didn’t listen to me when I asked for some quiet time. What gives you the right to kick my seat?”
“You didn’t listen to my jokes,” he repeated, losing steam.
“I listened to each and every one of them. You didn’t give me a choice not to. Now I am asking you to make the choice to stop kicking my seat and give the jokes a rest,” I snipped back at him.
“But you didn’t say anything when I told you jokes,” he whined.
“I was giving you the silent treatment so I could have some silence,” I explained.
“You’re mean, Mommy,” was all he said in reply.
Silence followed (for about 1 minute).
I had not intended to be mean. I had intended to seek some quiet without hurting his feelings. My silence was a teaching tool. I was trying to teach my son that no response is a response. I wanted to let him know that I was finished with the conversation and that it was time to take a break. I wasn’t really “mean,” but hoped he would understand in future conversations when another person stops responding, the conversation is over or there is a problem.
As you go about your business, keep in mind that silence is not only golden but powerful. If you choose to not respond to someone, make certain that your silence has the right intention. It may be for your own sake or the sake of the other person, but please be sure that you are wielding the silence sword honorably.
We are all called to communicate with one another and breaks in communication can mean a multitude of things. Be careful with your silence. Keep lines of communication open. If you need silence, be sure to ask for it in an honest manner. If people can’t respect your need, they are not truly listening and have earned the quiet that comes their way.
“No response is a response. And it’s a powerful one. Remember that.”
Remember the power that your sound or silence possess. Your willingness to respond or not weighs heavily on your relationships. Speak honestly, listen intently, remain silent when needed, and communicate love in all you do and say.
By: Melanie A. Peters
P.S. I have nothing against fart jokes, but the butt jokes get old pretty quickly.
P.P.S. There is also joy found it the comfortable silence of being with those you love. Remember that too.