How to Deal With a Coworker Who Gives the Silent Treatment

How to Deal With a Coworker Who Gives the Silent Treatment
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How would you respond if someone ignored you? If they approached you, would you ignore them or try to talk to them? You should avoid an argument by understanding the other person’s impolite behavior.

The “silent treatment” occurs when a person completely removes all communication with you. Anger, frustration, or shame are common motivators for this sort of action. There’s a chance the silent treatment giver is upset because they feel like nobody hears them or they are misinterpreted.

It’s vital to remember that someone’s lack of response may not necessarily indicate hostility. People often keep to themselves out of shyness or embarrassment. In these cases, it’s best to give them room and allow them to return to you when they’re ready.

There may be more at stake than just one unpleasant day at the office if your coworker gives you the silent treatment for an extended period. You may need to step in to prevent a crisis.

How to recognize the silent treatment, what to do if you receive it, and whether or not it’s worth fighting for are all topics we’ll cover in this post.

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1. Try to put it out of your mind until it goes away.

Silence doesn’t always mean “I’m mad.” Sometimes, it just means that someone wants you to cool off. When it happens, don’t take it personally. Don’t try to reason with them. And don’t respond. You’ll only encourage them to behave like a spoiled child if you do.

The best way to handle silence is to wait until they come around and apologize. Then, accept their apology graciously. But don’t push the issue. Let them know you appreciate their honesty, even though you still think they’re wrong.

If you want to get back on good terms with your coworker, let them know how much you care about them. They might feel embarrassed or ashamed about their actions, so having you reassure them will help.

Remember to return the favor: Give your coworker some space when feeling down. This could be as simple as giving them a quick hug or letting them vent privately.

When you see them struggling, ask them how things are going. Be sensitive to their situation.

Give them time to recover from whatever caused them to act rudely. After a few days, you can start talking again.

2. Do More Listening Than Talking

You can’t force someone to open up to you. However, you can show interest in them. Try asking them questions. Ask them about their family, hobbies, work, and interests. Showing interest makes people feel cared about.

Ask them about something that happened recently. Did they have any problems at home? Are there issues between them and their significant other?

Try to find out why they acted the way they did — maybe they were stressed out from work. If they don’t tell you, then ask them directly. Say something like, “Hey, I noticed you didn’t say anything during lunch yesterday. Is everything okay?”

Even if you don’t get anywhere, you’ve done your part. Now, it’s their turn to reciprocate.

3. Let Go of Your Grudge.

Sometimes, people who give the silent treatment aren’t being hostile. They’re simply trying to avoid conflict. Instead of getting angry, try to understand where they’re coming from.

Think about it this way: You wouldn’t yell at your friend if he sat next to you and refused to talk. He’d probably ignore you, which would lead to another argument. So, why should you treat him differently?

You should expect a conversation only sometimes you interact with someone. If they don’t want to talk, then leave them alone. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.

But if you want to understand why your coworker acts as she does, try speaking with her privately. Explain that you’re concerned because you don’t want her to miss out on opportunities for advancement. Tell her what you saw that made you worry. And ask her whether she has any advice or suggestions.

If she says no, then let go of your anger. It’s not worth holding onto. She may never change. But you can still maintain positive relationships with her coworkers and superiors.

4. Be Strong.

When someone tries to ignore you, they probably do it because they feel uncomfortable talking to you. Many people avoid conversations with others they dislike. When you try to engage with someone who is giving you the cold shoulder, you are putting yourself in an awkward position.

Getting ignored could mean that the person is either too busy or doesn’t care about what you have to say. So, be patient. Give them space and see how things go over time.

You must remember that you control the conversation if you are being ignored. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap of letting the silent treatment affect you. Instead, remain strong and stand up for yourself. Your best bet is to speak up and tell the person why they are wrong.

5. Investigate the Whys of the Situation in Depth.

As much as we all love a good mystery, sometimes we must dig deep into our situations’ whys. Occasionally, we have to look past superficial reasons and focus on deeper ones.

The reason your coworker gives you the silent treatment isn’t that he dislikes you. Maybe he feels guilty about something that he hasn’t told you yet. Or perhaps he wants to ensure you don’t think badly of him.

To figure out what’s going on, start by asking questions. Ask the person directly if there is anything that he wants to talk about. Then, listen carefully. Pay attention to his tone of voice when he answers your question. Does it sound sincere? Do you sense that he is struggling to come up with words?

If you believe he is hiding something important, consider confronting him about it. However, do so only after you’ve tried everything else first. And take note of what happens after you confront him. If he responds positively, then great! Keep working together.

However, if he doesn’t respond well, you’ll know you were right all along. That means that you will have to find a new place to work.

6. Do Not Try To Win the Silent Treatment.

You should also avoid trying to win the silent treatment game. While some people enjoy playing mind games, most people hate them. They find them annoying and frustrating.

So, don’t try to play head games with someone who is ignoring you. This makes both of you miserable. Instead, accept the situation. You can always get back to where you left off at another time.

And even though you’re upset, try to keep your emotions under wraps. Otherwise, the other person may feel like he has won the battle. He may begin to believe that he can continue to give you the silent treatment whenever he likes.

Remember: Most people don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. So, if you wish to stop receiving silent treatment, you must stop treating others the same way.

7. Give Space and Time.

Sometimes, silence is golden. It’s a sign that your coworker is thinking about what you said. But you’ll have to step up and take action if he ignores you.

Try giving him more time to think about what you’ve said. Just let him stew for a while before you bring it up again. This will help him realize that you aren’t leaving him alone forever. You’re not leaving him alone at all.

Also, try giving him space to process things. Give him a few days or weeks to mull over what you said. This will provide him with an opportunity to calm down and think clearly.

Then, when you finally come back around, don’t be surprised if he acts differently than usual. He may act differently because he realizes how serious you are. Or, maybe he thinks that you’re being unreasonable.

Either way, this will help you understand why he acted the way he did. Now, you’ll be able to move forward knowing exactly why he behaved in such a manner.

8. Don’t Beat Yourself Up.

Don’t beat yourself up over the silent treatment. After all, you didn’t ask for it. So, you shouldn’t blame yourself for having received it.

Instead, focus on the positive aspects of the relationship. Think about how much better things would be if you could communicate effectively.

And remember that the silent treatment isn’t permanent. Eventually, he’ll tire of it. Then, one day, he’ll look you straight in the eye and tell you what’s wrong.

At that point, you’ll be glad that you stood up for yourself. Because now, you’ll be able to see that you made a difference.

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9. Seek Advice.

You should also seek counsel, especially on the relationship between supervisor and subordinate. Asking those around you will reveal that silence is frequently viewed differently. Frequently, superiors and subordinates may believe they are being overlooked or are receiving less attention than others.

However, this could be due to different reasons. For example, the boss may not feel comfortable talking to his subordinate. Or they want to keep things under wraps.

Whatever the case, you do not want to make matters worse by asking awkward questions. Instead, you should figure out why your colleague is acting so strangely. Then, you should take action accordingly.


There is strength in silence. But it does have its peculiar regulations. To use these guidelines correctly, you must be familiar with them.

For example, someone who ignores you will not suddenly feel obligated to start talking to you. Likewise, you can’t coerce someone into talking. There’s nothing you can do but sit tight and hope he finally opens up.

Sticking to these rules will ensure you are never taken aback by someone else’s quiet. And there won’t be any awkward scenarios for you to endure.

Try to keep cool the next time someone gives you the silent treatment. Do not initiate conversation; wait for the other person to start talking. If nothing else, you won’t make matters worse.

In any case, consult our professional resume writers right away if you need assistance interacting with challenging coworkers. Get the most out of your interactions with difficult people with our service.

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