How to cope with the silent treatment

Updated April 17, 2017

While engaging in verbal warfare with a loved one can be hurtful, getting the silent treatment can also damage your feelings and the relationship dynamic. This is because refusing to speak about issues can prolong problems and build greater resentment between the two of you. Since you can't force someone to talk to you when they have decided to give you the silent treatment, knowing how to cope with this action can keep you grounded.

Confront your feelings about being given the silent treatment. Find a private place to release your emotions since your attempts to talk are being met with silence. Realise that ignoring your true feelings can cause you greater stress. Don't let your willingness to solve problems be hindered by another person's decision to retreat from theirs. Writing your feelings in a journal or discussing them with a trusted friend can help you find peace.

Reflect on the actions that led to your dispute. This can help you identify any wrongdoing on your part and allow you to get inside the mindset of your upset friend. Try to look at the situation from your friend's standpoint to avoid ignoring your contribution to their unhappiness. Drawing from previous experiences can also help you pinpoint the causes of your current disagreement.

Respect their wishes while seeking to break the silence. Understand that your friend may be employing the silent treatment for a variety of reasons. Examples include not knowing how to approach you with certain issues or simply seeking solitude to avoid making regretful statements. You may find that they will accept other forms of communication that don't involve face-to-face encounters. For example, delivering a heartfelt letter expressing remorse for your actions and a desire to move forward may move them to end the silent treatment.

Find ways to keep yourself occupied. Realise that stewing over the fact that you are receiving the silent treatment can destroy your overall happiness and productivity. Engaging in a hobby can also keep you from begging for their attention. This shows that while you desire effective communication, your world doesn't stop because they decide not to speak to you.


Maintaining your dignity throughout the silent treatment is essential. Failing to do so can make it easier for your friend to enact this "punishment" on you in the future.

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About the Author

Mika Lo has been producing online content since 2005. The majority of her work has been published in areas such as parenting, lifestyle and health. Lo has also assisted with the development of community and hospital-based patient education programs, including creative discharge classes for new mothers and assisting underprivileged patients with medication assistance and information.