The silent treatment is a form of social punishment. It consists of ignoring a particular individual, neither speaking to them not responding to their words.
Is equal to avoid deliberately; keep away from; an aloof refusal to speak to someone you know.
Maintenance of aloof silence toward another as an expression of one's anger or disapproval: a deliberate discourteous act (as an expression of anger or disapproval) can really hurt. If you are tempted to use this sanction against your partner, know that it can be lethal for the relationship.
Are you getting the cold shoulder, but you don't know why? Is someone who's normally eager to speak to you now keeping your conversations to the bare minimum? This can be hurtful, frustrating, and confusing. Here's how to confront the person who's ignoring you without making things worse.
Make sure you're not just being paranoid. Perhaps he or she is being quiet because someone in his family is ill, or she's having personal problems. In this case, you shouldn't take it personally - let them have their space. But, you need to worry if this person is:
- only acting quietly towards you and not towards others,
- and for an extended period of time,
Question your own behavior. When did they start giving you the silent treatment? What happened that day, or the days right before their behavior changed? Could you have done or said something that was insensitive? Did something change? Try to understand what could've set off the silence. Narrow it down to a few possibilities and try to think of how you can fix the situation, if the problem is real and it happened and you can see it.
Rehearse what you're going to say. It's easy to get nervous and/or defensive, or to come off the wrong way, if you aren't prepared. Close your eyes and imagine you're alone with this person and say out loud what you want to say.
Begin by apologizing if you did something to offend or hurt the person, even if you're not sure what it is. Say something like "Look, I'm sorry if I've done or said something stupid to you."
Tell them that you value their company or friendship. (E.g. "I've really enjoyed spending time/working with you.")
Let him or her know that if something's bothering them, you're all ears.
Offer to leave them alone. After all, a silent treatment indicates that he or she no longer wants to speak with you for whatever reason. If they won't share or discuss the reason, there's not much else you can do. Just have the person confirm openly that he or she wants you to stop talking to them. If they say yes, they want you to leave them alone, then leave them alone. If they say no, or not really, or I'm not sure, then say something like "Well, what's going on? Maybe we can figure something out together."
Speak to the person when you're alone and are unlikely to be interrupted. Then get to the point: "I care about you and the relationship, and keeping silent will not help us reconnect. Can you tell me what is wrong?"
A WORD OF CAUTION:
If there is no dialogue after your honest attempt at reconciliation, the capacity of your partner of hoarding anger and righteous indignation is scary. He wants to be right, not to re-connect. If this happens very often, then it will be for her a means of controlling you and transform you in a human wreck. If there is no negotiation, you need to have a careful look at the situation, and evaluate the impact of this moral pain in your health. Is this relationship worth this kind of stress? You got together because you wanted support, company and recognition; if you get punishment and isolation, what is the point? something is very wrong here, and you need to be self protective, so explore carefully the possibility of getting external help for this relationship.