What do you do when the friend, client, contact, family member you have reached out to responds with the silent treatment?
In general we might just guess that our contact is busy and get in touch again. But in cases where there have been some bumps in the relationship or where someone doesn’t respond after a couple of attempts the assumptions come rushing in.
In verbal conversation we have the urge to fill the silent gaps in conversation with words. In the communication that happens in email or through voicemail we fill the silence with assumptions. When we don’t get a response to our first or second messages we start to make guesses about why we aren’t hearing back and these guesses feed on our insecurities.
“Why do we go to our insecurities? Because we know that people tend to shy away from communicating negative messages. If someone hasn’t called us, we think to ourselves, it must be that she doesn’t want to communicate something negative to us. Or she simply wants us to stop bothering her and go away. Also, we figure, if the person wanted to work with us, it would be in her interest to let us know ” she would have called.” Peter Bregman
If you want to learn how to handle the silent treatment check out HBR blogger Peter Bregman’s post this week. He maps out the three vital steps to take and explains how to handle these silences with dignity and polish.