Is The Silent Treatment Effective?

Don’t sabotage relationships with silence.

By Kevin RR Williams

BEHAVIOR It's really amazing that the human species has existed this long. Men and women have totally different communication styles in general. When someone asks a man to go shopping, he wants to know, "What do we need to buy? How long will it take? Why can't we order it online?" In contrast, women can go shopping for hours, not come home with anything and feel satisfied knowing what to buy when or if something goes on sale.

Many acknowledge the stark differences of intergender communication. Most men think quite linearly — do it or not; go there or stay. (See sidebar cartoon.) Women who typically read more emotions into situations strive to uncover an underlying motive — even when there is none. The disparity in communication styles can lead to the silent treatment. This is when females may endeavor to coax out a closer bond or emotional discussion by not saying a word. This might be the queue for the guy to go have a beer with his buddies, which, in turn, leads to a more taciturnly aimed anger. Is there any benefit to the silent treatment?

Without the awareness that we are supposed to be different, men and women are at odds with each other. We usually become angry or frustrated with the opposite sex because we have forgotten this important truth. We expect the opposite sex to be more like ourselves. We desire them to "want what we want" and "feel the way we feel." —Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, John Gray, Ph.D., page 11.

A woman might rally support for her protest and from female friends. Meanwhile the male counterpart — the object of her affection — is given the cold shoulder. It can last hours or even days. Among rational minds, stifling communication appears counterproductive to conversation. Yet, look around; the species thrives.

Ladies, please chime in. This requires audience participation. Why is silence used as a culvert to communication? Ladies? No silence, please.

Tags: arguments, disagreements, moody, psychology, relationships, spats