It’s not that what we’ve said is wrong, but then the silent treatment happens. When one person says something, whether it’s a request, complaint or something constructive and the other person responds with emotional distance and silence.
Although, it’s not about what we’ve said, we’re just communicating, it’s how the other person is in their own emotional and personal space, yet it’s something we’re made to endure. The silent treatment is a way of inflicting pain on someone without the physical marks.
Research carried out by Paul Schrodt, PhD, Professor of Communication Studies reviewed 74 relationships and 14,000 participants. His findings show the silent treatment decreases relationship satisfaction, reduces our ability to communicate in a way that is meaningful and healthy. It also diminishes feelings of intimacy.
The key to anyone staying emotionally close in the good times, lies in the way we treat each other in the bad times. It can take hours, even days to get back into normal communicative patterns, after the silent treatment.
When we actively choose to ignore others and give them the cold shoulder, we do it to punish. We’re handing the same treatment we’re inflicting on others to ourselves and yet people don’t always understand or equate the emotional damage.
It’s easy for the person handing out the silent treatment, to deny when the other person simply says, ‘you’re ignoring me’ and he or she gets away with it.