Handling Silence

Posted by Leela Manoranjan in ,

Recently I came across a situation, where I faced the most unbearable sound – Silence. I was expecting a call from a dear friend. I waited and waited and the call never came. I was getting impatient and restless over this. A dear friend suggested me to let go. I would have, have I not known this person very well and more over this person is a dear friend. Sometimes letting go is not simple but simply too hard, maybe even emotionally impossible? I can’t stop thinking about it?

Some of my friends who knew me well kept saying “Stop worrying!”, “ Grow up”. None soothed my mind. “Silence, is the worst, most damaging kind of feedback”. Effective feedback is clear and specific, even when it is negative.

What if you were in love with someone and you are expecting a call from him / her and you don’t get a call, and when you call, if he/she dodges your call? What does his/her silence mean? You don’t know why he/she is silent and we inevitably go straight to our biggest insecurities, because we know that people tend to shy away from communicating negative messages. We think to ourselves, he/she doesn't want to communicate something bad or may be the person wants us to stop bothering and expects us to go away. Also, we know if he/she wanted to be with us, he/she would have called.

So, when someone doesn’t give a response, we imagine one like “Terrible thing you did other day. I don’t like you that much.” Which, many times, is not what the other person wants to communicate? As you all know, mistakes rarely happen between words, they happen in gaps between the words. Many a times, the longer you wait for the response, the more you misunderstand. What makes it more difficult: you have to continue to work together. It could be any one – wife and husband, classmates, people from your work place or just neighbors.

Moreover the ‘Uncertainty’ between people makes things worse. We don’t know what the other person thinks. We don’t know if the other person likes us. We just keep wondering. Silence introduces uncertainty over the matter, which causes discomfort. This makes silence so hard. We should deal with the discomfort and move on. If we don’t, we wait, wonder and stress ourselves.

How should we deal with the uncertainty of silence when it would be inadvisable to let go?

  1. Acknowledge to yourselves that you don’t know what the silence means. Don’t fill in the blanks. We normally tend to get it wrong.
  2. Admit to the other person that you don’t know what the silence meant? Ask him/her to tell what is wrong.
  3. Whether you like the response or not, think it is the truth.

Don’t think taking a step and calling him/her will make you look vulnerable. If you don’t have the conversation, you end up doing things that make you look even more vulnerable. It shows you are not afraid of the answer. It shows you are clear on your thoughts.

If you get an answer that for sure you know, isn’t truth, believe in it and ask for more details. Be clear in what his/her actions mean. And more importantly stick to your messages in action.

If you mean something like “I would like to talk to you one more time. Please let me know if you can discuss further on this. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll assume you’re not interested”. Ensure you meant it by heart. If you keep sending one more message and then one more and one more – It is clear the person is not interested.