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Silent Treatment at Work - Balancing Professionalism, Courtesy and Kindness

Updated on August 1, 2015

4. Silent Treatment at Work - unprofessional and discourteous

Silent Treatment has no place at the workplace!
Silent Treatment has no place at the workplace! | Source

When your co-worker gives you the Silent Treatment ...

... don’t throw your maturity out the window by bowing to his or her standards if they are the type to give a sarcastic, cold or absolutely no reaction to your pleasant and courteous “good morning” or invitation to lunch. For the most part, treat them like you would anyone else. This is about you being the bigger person.

Some might say kill him with kindness. By all means speak and act normally and treat them with the utmost professionalism and civility - but don’t go way over the top with kindness lest it be seen as a weakness on your part, or as some desperate attempt to have them start speaking with you again. Striking the right balance between professionalism, basic good manners and empathy is crucial to your own well being so take the time to think through how you can best respond to the passive aggressive person in a manner which is healthy and constructive.

If the silent person/workplace bully is the type to try to malign you in eyes of others, as distressing as this is remember that if the other people have the good sense and capacity to make their own judgments they will eventually see through passive aggressive tactics such as silent treatment and other ploys designed to make you look bad, and they will not think ill of you.

Sadly, they may not actually go as far as standing up for you in front of the silent one - particularly if he/she is the boss they may fear for their livelihood or fear being given the silent treatment themselves. However, just try to be secure in the knowledge that when this person gives you the silent treatment, she/he is showing themself up and ultimately will likely be thought the lesser of. They will suffer a loss of respect, for treating you unfairly and unprofessionally.

Remember: This is a chance for you to be the bigger person and hold your head high. In so doing you will be in a good position to take things further should the mistreatment you receive persist or escalate.

>>> NEXT - Silent Treatment at Work – Your Unexpected Motivator and Managing your own Expectations

Please go to the link above for Perspective 5, or see below for a helpful publication with strategies for dealing with workplace conflict, plus another on coping with troublemakers - There's also a quick video giving conflict resolution tips.


Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job

By Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith

This book above is presented as a guide to preventing and resolving workplace conflict. It can help to turn conflict into an opportunity for growth and to uplift. It includes case studies, examples and the strategies you need to know to avert or overcome the variety of situations which lead to disharmony at work.

It is a valuable and thought provoking guide and many have found it to be a very worthwhile read. Available in both paperback and kindle it has been rated an impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars, as at July 2015. The ten strategies include advice on searching beneath the surface for hidden meanings, how to separate what matters from what gets in the way and exploring resistance and negotiating. We spend a very considerable amount of our lives in our place of work so it makes sense to equip with the strategies that make for a contented and productive work life.

Coping with Difficult People: The Proven-Effective Battle Plan That Has Helped Millions Deal with the Troublemakers in Their Lives at Home and at Work

This publication is rated 4.4 out of 5 by just under 100 reviewers as at July 2015 and since encountering difficult people is inevitable in life, it makes sense to arm yourself with knowledge of how to deal with a range of challenging personality types and learn to manage your own emotions better.

Reading this book, by Robert M Bramson, will not mean you can change the behaviour of those who displease you, but it can help you change your own behaviour and better cope, making for a happier existence.

Conflict Happens - That's Life!


As necessary, seek help from HR and/or get legal advice about mistreatment at work.


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