Coping with Silent Treatment at work ...
Examples of Workplace Silent Treatment/Ostracism
- consistently and purposefully leaving the targeted individual out of conversations, verbal and/or written, failing to pass on critical information
- Only communicating with the individual when there is no other alternative
- Social isolation – leaving an individual out of work related social gatherings or leaving the room/area when the individual walks in
- Looking “straight through” the person, acting as if they did not exist, pointedly or covertly ignoring them
A Pitiful way to Behave!
If you have to work with someone who persists in giving you the silent treatment this article will be of significance to you. It can make for a very awkward, miserable (not to mention less productive) atmosphere when you must spend a sizeable proportion of your waking hours with a passive aggressive personality who resorts to this type of immature behaviour.
If you feel you have tried everything, e.g. from trying to appease, cajole or provoke them into speaking to you to no avail, then maybe it’s time to take a step back and seriously consider whether or not this silent person is deserving of some pity and empathy from you!
Now you may scream back that NO, they do not deserve your pity because they are making your working life, and beyond, a living hell. Yes, it is true that this difficult person is potentially putting your career and your emotional/physical health at risk. However, along the lines of forgiving someone who does not necessarily deserve to be forgiven for the sake of your own sanity and for the sake of becoming unstuck, go ahead and feel sorry for your silent tormentor due to the simple fact that you yourself deserve to have more peace of mind and contentment.
Although many would describe silent treatment in the workplace as a form of bullying, feeling sorry for the giver of silent treatment, instead of drowning in anxiety and thoughts like "how can I get him/her to treat me fairly, civilly, just talk to me" can be key. Feeling pity for that self-absorbed person who is ostracising you could be just the right alternative approach that lets you to begin to see the problem from a new perspective – a perspective which could help you move on and feel increasingly positive that every day at work is not bound to be a bad day because of a co-workers persistent silent treatment.
Be aware that it can be the case that people who use silent treatment do so as a result of a deep, but often well hidden, lack of self esteem. With this vulnerability, on some level, by making someone else a victim of silent treatment, it diverts their mind away from their own shortcomings. Having someone else trying to get into their good books, trying to appease or win them round can make them the center of attention leading to them feeling more important, worthy or powerful than they innately believe themselves to be. In other words they feel better at your expense. So again, maybe now’s the time to start feeling sorry for that colleague, boss or co-worker who won’t give you the time of day.
NB: Be aware that feeling sorry for, or forgiving, a passive aggressive person or bully does not necessarily mean you have to just continue to accept or tolerate objectionable behaviour so do seek qualified help from HR or legal professionals as necessary.
Remember: No more self pity - pity your pathetic tormentor when you are dealt workplace silent treatment
Click the link immediately above for Perspective No 2. Alternatively, read on (or come back to this page later) for advice about reflecting on your own behaviour, a video giving surprising facts on the extent of workplace bullying plus information on two recommended books - one deals with women on women meanness in the workplace and the other bullying more generally.
REFLECTING ON YOURSELF as a victim of Silent Treatment in the Workplace
Some adults who give colleagues the silent treatment claim they are driven to it, saying the person they are not talking to is consistently unapproachable, over-sensitive to constructive criticism, never takes any notice of them anyway, is impossible to reason with, lazy, uncooperative, uncompromising – the list goes on!. If you are on the receiving end of silence from a co-worker, boss or colleague it’s important to calmly and objectively reflect on your own behaviour at work to ensure that your co-workers have no legitimate reason to make such accusations against you. That said, and in any event, silent treatment will not resolve anything. Just be objectively self-aware.
Bullying at Work is all too common!
This publication, The Bully at Work: What you can do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim your Dignity on the Job, by respected authors in the field - Gary Namie and Ruth Namie - details how workplace bullying can destroy careers, as well as personal lives outside of the work environment. It aims to enable the reader to identify bullies and assert themselves with dignity. As well as practical strategies, it looks at what legal recourse is available to those who are bullied in the workplace.
The book includes statistics about bullying (you are most certainly not alone!) and is a very useful resource not only for those on the receiving end of bullying but for those who have a responsibility to stop such practices. In short, a must read – with 88% of those reviewing giving a rating of 5 or 4 stars with a overall mark of 4.5 stars as at July 2015.
Girl on Girl Silent Treatment at Work!
These articles are not intended to replace legal or expert advice from suitably qualified professionals. If you are experiencing prolonged or troubling silent treatment from people you work with, it’s important to such seek specialist guidance sooner rather than later.
Why share this ...
Silent Treatment/Bullying in the Workplace is, unfortunately, extremely widespread. For all sorts of reasons, people often feel too embarrassed to let others know that they are being treated unfairly at their place of employment. Please share these pages liberally with your friends, family co-workers and others at work, lest they are currently experiencing, or in the future encounter, mistreatment at work.
Recommended Reading on the Web
- Top 5 Difficult Co-Workers and How To Deal With Them
Do you have an annoying co-worker? Difficult co-workers are the worst! Whether it is a jerk, gossip, whiner, slacker, or inconsiderate co-worker, here is how to deal with them at work.
- Bullying at work - Live Well - NHS Choices
How to identify if you're being bullied at work, how to stop it and advice on getting support.
- How To: Dealing With A Difficult Co-Worker
Sometimes you have to deal with a difficult person at work. Here are some ways to deal with THAT person.
© 2015 Ebonny