When No Response is the Best Response
There have been a couple of times lately I’ve allowed myself a little extra time to respond, and it turned out to be a very good thing.
Both times involved communicating with other women who were quick to react, and very erratic in their reactions.
They were not responding… they were only reacting.
There’s a huge difference.
Reactions are fast; Responses involve thought
Usually when people find themselves in that situation: with people quick to react, high emotion, and ready to “make a point” – they get into a speedy back-and-forth communication cycle that ends up crashing and burning.
In both of my recent experiences, there were crashes, and possibly flames – but, because I gave myself that little bit of extra time to respond, I have no idea if the fire department needed to be called because I wasn’t around for the fire.
The reason I wasn’t is that I exercised my right to free speech: the right to not speak at all if it doesn’t serve me.
This is an important right to remember especially when someone is “trying to make a point” – that’s a danger zone.
When someone is forcing their opinion, they’re not open to conversation – so it’s your best bet to slow down and reserve comments.
That sounds an awful lot like the silent treatment, doesn’t it?
It might sound that way, but it’s not.
It’s all about where you’re coming from: the intention you have with your communication (or lack of communication, as the case might be.)
The silent treatment is an indication of a very low level of emotional intelligence commonly used by narcissistic people to punish someone or to deprive another person of something.
If you’re actively part of a communication exchange and make an intelligent decision to simply slow down and see how something plays out, your intention is positive.
Your lack of response is a positive decision for your own good, and for the benefit of the other people who have completely lost control of their impulses (and sometimes we may think they’ve lost control of all good sense completely!)
In both of my recent examples, the other people were not in a mindset of receiving other points of view and were simply wanting to force their view on the other people involved.
I stepped back and chose to reserve comment.
In one case, it was the mother of a child who participates in the same extracurricular activity as one of our daughters: her child said some unusually cruel things to my daughter.
It’s not uncommon- kids can be mean, and the child in question is going through some serious emotional difficulty at home that stems from her parents.
If I’d chosen to respond to the mother, who has a lack of control in her personal life and parenting style, it wouldn’t have resulted in anything positive for anyone: not her, not me, and certainly not our daughters who are around each other quite often.
Because the other people involved in the situation were not making emotionally informed decisions with communication, no level of positivity I could bring would have made a difference there.
Therefore, I exercised my right to use communication on my terms and declined to keep the other woman’s negativity going.
It takes two people to have an argument, and it’s the second person to speak who starts it.
My decision to exit the communication turned out to be a really good call – the girls cooled down, the child who had said cruel things apologized, and the world is mostly back to normal.
Also, through taking the more emotionally intelligent route, I’ve softly and appropriately communicated my boundaries to the woman who was over-the-line with her actions and knee-jerk reactions.
It’s all about choices when you’re coming from a positive place with good intentions.
In my other recent experience with this, a family member with whom I rarely communicate was using a texting group very poorly. (For some guidance on best practices when texting, click here.)
Long & drawn-out emotional statements were being sent by her to this text group, and with no apparent purpose.
Always look for the action-item here, asking: “Is there something upon which I must act?”
If not, don’t.
There was absolutely no actionable call for my response, so I made the decision to not immerse myself in the drama.
With texts, it’s extremely easy to remove yourself from the communication.
Simply don’t text back.
If a person’s texting communication doesn’t follow the guidelines we linked you to above, then simply neglect to respond.
Choosing where to invest your attention, intention, and energy will help you feel more powerful and will help you have time for much more important things such as your personal growth and using our newly released free training 5-Steps To Claim the Life You Want! or by joining our new GILD Recovery Yoga for emotional & mental wellness!
Check that out and don’t forget to join us in the GILDed Life group on Facebook– it’s our free community mastermind and you’re invited!