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20 Things to Know Before Responding to the Silent Treatment

20 Things to Know Before Responding to the Silent Treatment

If you are currently seeking answers on how to respond to the silent treatment, then you already know how hurtful and annoying it can be.

You probably feel unwanted right now and unsure of how to fix things. Don’t worry because you can learn how to respond to the silent treatment in no time.

Check out our ideas below for how to respond to the silent treatment in your life.


Key things to do when responding to the silent treatment and why:


01Give the angry party some space.
Before you do anything, you should give the angry party some space and time alone so that they can be with their feelings. The silent treatment is almost always because the angry person feels overwhelmed by their emotions. You should go out, or you can stay away for a while.
This is an important thing to do because the angry partner may need the silent time to reflect on their feelings and reconsider talking to you. Other times, space is what the angry person really wants.  


01 man and woman mad sitting on the bed woman looking on the guy
Photo by acworks author on photo-ac


02Rethink the situation from the other person’s point of view.
In the same vein of being cautious, you’ll need to think backwards to see what might have triggered the angry person’s reaction. You can try to understand things from his/her point of view before you make any moves to fix things.
This can help you understand why the angry person has chosen to give you the silent treatment. It can show you where you might have gone wrong and where she/he may be right after all. This can help you put the best foot forward when it comes to tackling the issue.


03Seek the opinion of a trusted third party.
If you feel that you can’t analyze the situation justly on your own, you can choose to seek out a trusted confidant and talk to him/her about it. You can ask the person to tell you what he/she thinks about what you should do.
A third opinion usually ends up being an eye-opener, and if you choose an honest friend, you will see things more clearly after talking to him/her. Thereafter, you can seek the best solution either on your own or with the help of this third party.


03 two women lying down on vehicle

Photo by Greg Raines on unsplash


04Ask to know what is wrong.
The very first thing you should do is ask the angry party, calmly and politely, what is wrong. You can ask him/her what made him/her angry without sounding judgmental. You can say something like:


“Hey honey, I noticed you’re not talking to me. Have I done something wrong or annoyed you in some way?” 
Any counselor will tell you that the best way to solve a problem is by finding out what the problem is in the first place. Often, people choose to be silent because they feel that they aren’t being heard.
Asking the person what’s wrong can give him/her the audience or ear that he/she was seeking.


04 senior couple quarreling

Photo by acworks author on photo-ac


Almost always, people choose to give the silent treatment when they get really angry. Naturally, these people are looking for an apology in most cases.
You can go ahead and apologize for whatever it is that you’ve done to the angry person. Even if you are not sure what it was exactly, you can say something like:


“Hey Peter, I am sorry for whatever it is that I have done to make you not want to talk to me. Whatever it is, could you please forgive me?”
Apologizing can work wonders. Almost automatically, it can trigger the angry person and cause him/her to open up or explain his/her feelings. You just want to make sure that your apology sounds as honest as possible.


05 man in stripes polo asking for forgiveness

Photo by acworks author on photo-ac


06Write the angry party a letter or a note that expresses your love for him/her using beautiful language.
You should stop trying to get the angry person to talk to you. Instead, you can express yourself through an elegant letter. In the letter, you can reaffirm your love for the person whom you’ve hurt.
You can mention that you are willing to work on things and try to make everything better. You can write something heartfelt like:


“The light in my world has dimmed since you stopped talking to me, babe.”
This message works because the angry person can read your letter without having to speak to you. Your letter can help you say what he/she won’t let you say in person. With your letter, you can hope that you trigger his/her ability to forgive you.


07Make it clear that you are not leaving or backing down until the person speaks to you.
When it becomes clear that all the other methods are not working, you can tell the angry person that you won’t leave until he/she tells you what’s wrong. You don’t want to let him/her stay angry.
When you do this, the angry person might give in and talk to you. It might work because it may be what the angry person was hoping for all along – your attention and a chance to say what he/she is feeling.



08Do something nice for the angry party.
Is there something you know that the angry person really likes? You can try doing it or making it happen for the person. It is a way of reminding the angry party of your affection. It may trigger the person’s willingness to speak to you again, even if it’s after a long time.
This is a good way of chipping away slowly from the big block that is the silent treatment. Charming the angry person may force his/her anger to deteriorate over time. You can use this renewed sense of affection to discuss what angered him/her in the first place.


08 man and woman eating at the restaurant
Photo by buri on photo-ac


09Gently prod the angry person into airing out any issues; you can get the person to say “yes” or “no” to your guesses.
There’s no easy method of how to respond to the silent treatment. Sometimes, a little trickery is all you need.
Get your angry friend talking by suggesting, one by one, the different ways that you could have annoyed him/her. You can say something like:


“Was it because I refused to take out the trash? Yes or no? Was it the food thing? Yes or no?”
This method works because it gets to the core of the problem without forcing the angry person to do much talking. When you hit the right source of the problem, the angry person might start talking to you again.


09 choose yes or no ball on the side

Photo by acworks author on photo-ac


10Set a day and a time when you two should talk honestly about what’s happening.
Sometimes, the silent treatment can go on forever. To take control of the situation, you can set a date and a time for an honest talk with the angry person.
No one method on how to respond to the silent treatment is guaranteed to work. However, you still need to take control of the situation, or it can go on forever. Setting a date is one way to take control.


10 man sitting on a bench at the park girl looking at him

Photo by acworks author on photo-ac


Key things you should NOT do when responding to silent treatment and why


11Do not plead.
Regardless of gender or the nature of the relationship, you shouldn’t plead or beg someone to stop the silent treatment. It’s always better to talk it out if possible. If not, you may want to leave it alone for a short time.
This is because some people use the silent treatment as a bullying tactic; they use it to get people in their control.
Unfortunately, pleading can make you fall for the person’s game. The silent treatment is a form of emotional abuse that you shouldn’t shame yourself into accepting.


01 man angry at the woman

Photo by acworks author on photo-ac


12Do not react with anger.
When you notice the silent treatment from your partner or friend, you shouldn’t respond with anger directed at the angry person. You shouldn’t scream at the person or express anger to get him/her to talk to you.
This is the wrong move because anger will likely worsen the situation. It forces the silent person to retreat deeper into his/her shell, and he/she may get even more hurt.  



13Do not threaten to leave the relationship.
When deciding how to respond to the silent treatment from a friend or spouse, you should never consider threatening to leave the relationships as a solution, even out of anger.
Threats are never good options; they don’t make up the smartest response in emotional situations such as these. The silent party may be triggered to leave the relationship, leaving you broken-hearted. Threats are also forms of emotional abuse, and it’s dangerous for any person’s mental health.


14Do not respond with silent treatment too.
It seems like a fair punch, but responding to silent treatment with silent treatment just doesn’t work. It might work for a few types of people (especially when they get desperate), but overall, it leads to failed and awkward relationships.
That’s because silent treatment is a type of emotional abuse. When you choose to do it, you are abusing your friend, partner, or spouse. Besides, it’s just a way of running away from the problem instead of running towards it. 


04 man in blue shirt and woman not talking to each other
Photo by acworks author on photo-ac


15Do not paint yourself as the victim. 
Unless the silent person uses the silent treatment all the time, you are not the victim and should not make yourself out to be one. Thus, you shouldn’t use sentences like:


“Why are you hurting me in this way, especially when I haven’t done anything to you?”
If you want to stop the silent treatment, you need to make it about the person who is angry with you.
If someone is using the silent treatment with you, it’s because this person feels that he/she is the victim in some way. Trying to make yourself the victim can challenge this position and anger him/her further.
Besides, there’s always a chance that you are the one who has done something wrong in the situation.


05 couple making conversations and being mad

Photo by acworks author on photo-ac


16Do not bad-mouth the angry person to friends or others.
Gossiping and slandering your friend or partner, especially with your mutual friends, is not a good move.
Sometimes, you might be tempted to do so because you think the angry person is wrong to use the silent treatment with you, but you need to avoid the impulse to bad-mouth the angry person.
Your friend or partner will find out that you are bad-mouthing him/her, and that won’t help in this situation; it’s sure that he/she will not try to talk to you again. It appears harmless, but gossip is anything but good.


06 woman in white saying something to a guy

Photo by acworks author on photo-ac


17Do not run away from the angry person.
If your proposed way of how to respond to the silent treatment is to run away from it all, then you are headed for a crash.
It’s smart to give the angry person some space, but it’s rather dumb to run away from him/her forever. No matter what, you need to stay to fix things.
People go silent because they are angry or want to be heard. It’s not because they want you out of their lives.
When you run away, instead of giving the person the attention that he/she wants, you can worsen things significantly. This is more likely going to wreck whatever relationship you have with the person instead of saving it. 


07 couple riding a car having conversations

Photo by acworks author on photo-ac


18Do not insult the angry person.
At its worst, the silent treatment is bound to get on your nerves and make you snap. However, if you think hurling insults at the angry person will make him/her talk to you, you’ve made a big mistake.
Insults, even at their most subtle, are hurtful to anyone. Insults also paint you in a worse light than you could imagine. If you choose insults, the silent treatment will definitely continue and possibly lead to a breakup or the end of a friendship.


19Do not continue living your life as if nothing has happened.
It’s hard to know how to respond to the silent treatment when it happens. The absolute no-no is trying to live your life as if nothing has happened. This only worsens the situation for every person involved.
Ignoring the silent treatment will further exacerbate the angry person’s feelings of being wronged by you. This is because it’s as if you don’t see that the person is angry at you.
The angry person is staying silent because he/she wants you to notice your mistakes, not continue making them.



20Don’t get violent at all. Do not become aggressive with the angry person to force him/her to talk to you.
Many people feel tempted to physically force the angry person to start talking again. This means getting violent in one way or another, and this is completely unacceptable. It can get really dangerous for you and others.
No one wants to be beaten or physically abused by his/her friend or partner. The angry person might be wrong in using silent treatment, but there are better ways to solve the problems you have with this person. 


10 woman in red pulling man s hair
Photo by acworks author on photo-ac



If you are currently faced with someone who is showing you the silent treatment, you must be feeling quite agitated, angry, and alone.
Fortunately, you can fix things by learning how to respond to the silent treatment. You can use the ideas described in this article to help you get started on how to respond to the silent treatment. These tips may improve your life and all of your relationships.