Over the past few days I got the feeling that a good friend of mine was giving me the cold shoulder, so yesterday I cornered him to ask what the heck was going on.
He came out with a comment stating that he’s “not a fan of how you’ve been treating my girlfriend.” Uh? What?
Thinking back I realized that his behavior started on Friday, after my friend had sent him a text telling him that he was welcome to come with us for drinks, but we were talking about personal stuff and my friend wasn’t comfortable having his girlfriend join us.
As far as I can tell, he probably interpreted this as having been a message from me and took offence (this is the most reasonable excuse given the sequence of events; I wouldn’t know for sure since he hasn’t actually TALKED to me yet).
People giving me the silent treatment/cold shoulder REALLY burns me. The simple fact of the matter is the silent treatment doesn’t accomplish anything. It doesn’t allow someone to clear things up or apologize. It doesn’t help your friendship/relationship. It provides no resolution to either party.
The only time a period of silence is acceptable to me is if you’re taking a moment to cool down because you’re pretty sure you are blowing something out of proportion in your own mind. If this is the case, tell the other person you need a couple of days to be able to address the issue with a level head.
Why are people so shy to bring up something that bothers them? Really, if he’d just approached me the next day and said, “What was with that text?” Then I could have cleared up the fact that I had nothing to do with that message, it wouldn’t have been an issue between us, and he presumably would have come out with us on Saturday like we’d planned. Now it’s blown up into this big issue that’s currently affecting our eight-year friendship.
Giving someone the silent treatment is a power game. You’re making the other person stew, punishing them for whatever it was you perceive they did. But let’s take a step back and look at this like adults – not 15 year old girls – doesn’t that sort of behavior just lower you to the offender’s level?
If you want to take the high road in these situations you have three options:
1) You bring up the problem right away, without embellishment or drama, and talk it out.
2) Tell the other person you foresee their actions as a potential issue in your friendship, but you need a few days to think it out so you can approach the situation rationally.
3) Tell the other person that what they’ve done has offended you so deeply you can no longer be their friend (extreme cases only). Be specific on why you’re that offended if this is truly the road you need to take. At the end of the day, they might learn something and not screw up their next friendship.
At this stage, I’m starting to get ticked that he’s holding this over my head, when he should know better than to assume any of mine or my friend’s actions were as a result of pre-meditated malice against his girlfriend. So where this could have been amicable, it is slowly descending into something that is now a real issue.
Congratulations on your efficient use of the silent treatment – you’ve succeeded in creating an issue where there wasn’t one.