The silent treatment

- Francis J. Kong - The Philippine Star

A man and his wife were having some problems at home and giving each other the silent treatment. 

The man then realized that he would need his wife to wake him at 5:00 am for an early flight to Sydney. Not wanting to be the first to break the silence, he wrote on a piece of paper: “Please wake me at 5:00 am”.

The next morning, the man woke up, only to discover it was 9:00 am, and that he had missed his flight. Furious, he was about to go and see why his wife hadn’t woken him when he noticed a piece of paper by the bed. The paper said, “It is 5:00 am, wake up!”

Without effective communication, nothing can be accomplished.

The same principle applies especially to people in the work place.

Conflicts happen. These disagreements can lead to arguments.

When things like these happen among leaders, the people under them suffer. And so the silent treatment begins.

Crucial information can be hoarded.

These then become currencies for power trip and power play in the work place. The silent treatment begins to spread all throughout the work place. Effective communication easily flies out the window. The people caught between the quarrels of the leaders clam up because they do not want to be collateral damages in the ego conflicts.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that when issues like these are not addressed and resolved properly, these will then lead to serious business losses and productivity shortfalls.

The silent treatment is evident. Leaders ignore each other. Different departments refuse to communicate. People resort to strongly-worded e-mails.

The main protagonists start to post feisty and stinging remarks in their social spaces. This immature behavior exacerbates the situation and makes reconciliation difficult.

What leaders don’t realize is that another channel of communication takes place. The venues are usually the pantries or the nearest coffee shops. Healthy communications have given way to unhealthy gossips.

The silent treatment is a killer. It kills motivation and murders team spirit.

I keep on emphasizing this in my leadership seminars, “People who do not talk to each other will talk about each other.”

Information should not be hoarded. Conflicts should be resolved.

It takes a mature and humble leader to break the ice and fix the situation.

Egos fly all over the place in complex corporate settings. This type of energy deflates the trust of people and leads to low productivity.

Kill the silent treatment. Park the ego in the parking lot and begin communicating effectively.

One more thing, a clear evidence of poor communication is when a leader says: “but I assumed you already knew.”

Provide a good feedback mechanism. Allow the hard-working HR people space to do their job and harness the energy towards the achievement of targets and goals.

This is what leaders are called to do.

(Spend two life-transforming days with Francis Kong learning leadership and life skills as he present Level Up Leadership on Nov. 18-19 at EDSA Shangri-La Hotel. For further inquiries, contact Inspire at 09158055910 or call 632-6310912 for details.)

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