General Question

linguaphile's avatar

Who should make the first move after a long silent treatment: the one imposing the silence, or the one receiving it?

Asked by linguaphile (13545 points ) April 27th, 2011

I had a conversation today with two coworkers about Person A and Person B…
Person A, along with her buddies, have treated Person B as nonexistent for 5 years due to a very slight misunderstanding. Person B has dealt with the silent treatment by avoiding confrontation and just letting it go (she never expected it to last this long). Person A and her buddies have no idea who Person B really is- they only know what they ‘believe’ to be true.
One coworker is of the opinion that person B has a responsibility to break the ice and “show them who she really is,” and “prove that she’s not that bad.”
Another coworker said, no, Person A is the initiator of the silent treatment, so she should be the one the break the ice.
Person A has asked me for my opinion on this… but I am not sure.
Your thoughts?

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25 Answers

downtide's avatar

Only Person A can break the silence. Person B can try but if Person A wants to continue maintaining it, there’s nothing that Person B can do to change that. If both parties want to end the silence then Person A must apologise.

Vunessuh's avatar

Person A and her buddies are rude and cowardly and Person B should immediately find new friends and laugh at how immature and ignorant Person A and her buddies are. :)

augustlan's avatar

Whoever wants the silence to end. If person B cares, s/he could extend an olive branch and see what happens, but it’s certainly not his/her responsibility.

GingerMinx's avatar

person A and Person B should stop being children. Seriously? five years and they are still doing it? either they talk like adults and sort it out or B should simply go on with their life and forget them.

markylit's avatar

I think Person A should take the first step if he/she cares about Person B and has realized about the big mistake he/she’s made about forming opinions about Person B without even knowing him/her properly. Also, if Person B cares about Person A and wants be on good terms, maybe Person B should face Person A and explain what kind of person Person B really is and clear the cloud of biased opinion that Person A is forming up. But if Person B doesnt really care about Person A and his/her gang of pseudos, then Person B should just shut them out for the best and ignore their existence. As simple as that. :)

BarnacleBill's avatar

After 5 years, why should person B care? Surely person A and her shallow friends have not affected her life that much? Who would want to hang out with someone who would give the silent treatment for that long? In the course of 5 years, surely person’s B behavior has demonstrated itself to not be whatever caused the rift. Perhaps person C needs to point out to person A and her posse that they are juvenile and wrong. B should not have to defend herself.

nebule's avatar

This happened to me actually a few years ago… out of the blue one of my friends decided to disown me and proceeded to turn all my other friends against me, which they duly did. I confronted her about it and she simply wouldn’t talk to me..I still to this day do not know why they fell out with me. I suspect it is because the day before she stopped speaking to me was her birthday and she got absolutely wasted on drugs, which I disagreed with and aired my views to her, although I didn’t by no means express that that was the end of our friendship. So I suspect she was affronted with my opinions and couldn’t deal with them in an adult way…then decided to turn everyone against me. Girls can be very cruel.

It can be incredibly hard for person B in this situation but I would suggest that they move on and find a group of people who are caring and loving and respect them as a human being. I think person B has a responsibility to themselves to find worthwhile interactions with people and Person A and their friends have a responsibility to grow up… end the silence with some good old-fashioned honesty and respect with a good helping of humility and remorse.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Person A should make the first move and person B should not give a damn. XD

Pandora's avatar

Person A needs to act like a professional at work and grow up. I can understand how a mountain can grow out of a mole hill but 5 years! At work one should always consider what is best for your employer and what is best is a cohesive working enviroment. This kind of behavior is difficult for all to endure.
Person A needs to sit down and have a heart to heart talk with person B and let all their cronies know that it is something that needs to be settle between the two of them only.

Trojans40's avatar

Silent treatment isn’t very silent at all.
I think person B should try to get the feelings on the table to Person A. Person A need to understand the conquences of the silent treatment can do to a victim. Person B should take the first step to give Person A a chance to relize what the Person A action are doing to someone like Person B. I am not saying however that Person B should focus on talking about Person A actions to Person B or even the Person B feelings. But to make a productive conversation.

JLeslie's avatar

My opinion is it depends on the people and whatever crazy shit they expect. The one doing the silent treatment likely feels they are owed an apology and the other person should make the first move. The one who does not want to be in the middle of a silent treatment might be waiting for the passive aggressive silent person idiot to get over her anger and break the silence.

Some wait for an event, like a wedding or funeral to have interaction again, and then act as though nothing happened, never discussing the incident that brought it all on, never clearing the air.

You probably gather that I am ot a fan of the silent treatment.

Judi's avatar

Person A and her bully buddies are a bunch of imature brats. this is just plain cruel.

marinelife's avatar

Totally Person A. That is a ridiculous thing to do.

blueiiznh's avatar

Person A acting in a passive aggressive fashion for whatever reason and for whatever length is plain wrong and hurtful.
I do not blame Person B for being silent, but this kind of behavior is not professional for a work place.
Whoever it matters to should take action.
Person B to state it was hurtful and see where it goes.
Person A to apologize for actions and try to remedy it.

It sounds like Person B has dealt with it and has let it go, so to me it is up to Person A to stop acting like a passive aggressive fool.

JLeslie's avatar

I wasn’t clear about the specific situation at hand. Person A has to do it, because she is the fuckhead who started it. B obviously would not risk rejection.

JLeslie's avatar

I have been person B and it never works making the first move from what I have experienced. It is impossible for person B to know when person A is either over their anger or their caddiness. B apologyzing or trying to clear the air means A feels more powerful, and they are already on a power trip.

If it was just a few hours or days of silence between friends or family, it doesn’t matter who makes the move, but when it is years of someone being hateful for no reason, B cannot have any idea how A will react, and A has already proven to be beyond mean. It is A who needs to show she wants things to be different, and that she herself has changed.

wundayatta's avatar

What was the “slight misunderstanding?”

linguaphile's avatar

@wundayatta Person B was a new employee—during her first week on the job, she was asked by her boss to do a task that she happened to be a natural at, had done before and did it very well. Nobody had told her that Person A was the usual person to do the task, and wasn’t good at it.
My perspective- it was a basic “old guard” vs. “newbie” conflict, except the boss was the one who threw the newbie, unaware, into the fire and left her to take the blame. 3 months later, Person B did try to give the task back and explained she didn’t know, but it was ‘too late.’
Thanks for all your input—I appreciate the different perspectives, not just for work but for myself too!

Trojans40's avatar

Is that the same concept of the New kicking out the Old?

Kardamom's avatar

Now that we know exactly what happened, I would have to say that person A is a horrible, petty and cruel person and is the one who needs to do all of the apologizing. Privately and publicly. The boss, probably should have apologized too (unless he’s too stupid to see what has been going on for the last 5 years). The boss was kind of an idiot, not to let person A know what he was going to try out. He humiliated person A, and then threw person B under the bus. He’s guillty in this situation too. If he’s still there, maybe someone close to him/her could explain how horrible this situation is.

After all of this time, person B probably has absolutely no respect for person B, and even though person A needs to apologize big time (and should also explain the whole situation to her bully friends) it’s not likely that person B is going to truly accept the apology. Too much damage has been done to her. The reason why person B didn’t say anything, is because she is a professional, and she didn’t want to make the situation worse by bitching about it. She was completely innocent and got screwed because she happened to have a particular skill.

blueiiznh's avatar

I agree with what @Kardamom stated. It is fairly childish to think you can know everything. To do that because the newbie came in and was able to accomplish something that you could not is very unprofessional.
This however happens so much in business and I find it deplorable. That is far from woorking as a team of people and in fact is working against them.
Ugggg, I so dislike it when people are like this in personal or business settings.

linguaphile's avatar

@Trojan40—not in this situation. “New kicking out the old” would be the new person bumped the old person aside on purpose or competed for the job and won. I like how @Kardamom put it: the boss humiliated one person and threw the other under the bus. I never thought about the boss being the one who should have the responsibility-
I agree- too many workplaces have situations like this and it’s too bad because I’ve learned that MOST people have a nice and friendly side, just situations often come in between people that prevent them from being willing to open up again.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Thank you for sharing the details of the situation. It sounds like Person A may be showing a sign of maturity by asking your opinion on what to do. Personally, I would encourage her to make the first move and to accept it gracefully if she is met by resistance.

ninjacolin's avatar

The person who thinks the dishes should be done should always be the one to do the dishes.

Mantralantis's avatar

Hey, I know, what if ‘Person C’ makes the surprising first move. That’d be a nifty twist, huh?

Hey now, ‘Person C’ could be anyone – another friend, a family member, a camp counselor. Heck, even a mime can possibly do it. Just about anyone could be the hero. Of course, if it does, in fact, still matter. Making amends, that is. Yep.

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