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Si lence consists of any act to purposefully withhold information

from the pool of meaning. It’s almost always done as a means of avoiding potential problems, and it always restricts the flow of

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meaning. Methods range from playing verbal games to avoiding u person entirely. The three most common forms of silence are

masking. avoiding, and withdrawing.




• Masking consists of understating or selectively showing our true opinions. Sarcasm, sugarcoating, and couching are some of the more popular forms.

“J think your idea is, uh, brilliant. Yeah, that’s it. J just worry

that others won’t catch the subtle nuances. Some ideas come

before their time, so expect some, uh, minor resistance. ”

Meaning: Your idea is insane, and people will fight it with their last breath.

“Oh yeah, that’ll work like a charm. Offer people a discount,

and they’ll drive all the way across town just to save six cents

on a box of soap. Where do you come up with this stuff?”

Meaning: What a dumb idea.

• Avoiding involves steering completely away from senSItIve subjects. We talk, but without addressing the real issues.

“How does your new suit look? Well, you know that blue’s my

favorite color. ”

Meaning: What happened? Did you buy your clothes at the circus?

“Speaking of ideas for cost cutting-did you see Friends last

night? Joey inherited a bunch of money and was buying stu­

pid stuff. It was a hoot. ”

Meaning: Let’s not talk about how to cut costs. It always leads to a fight.

• Withdrawing means pulling out of a conversation altogether. We either exit the conversation or exit the room.

“Excuse me. I’ve got to take this call. ”

Meaning: I’d rather gnaw off my own arm than spend one more minute in this useless meeting.




“Sorry, I’m not going to talk about how to split up the phone

bill again. I’m not sure our friendship can stand another bat­

tle. ” (Exits.)

Meaning: We can’t talk about even the simplest of topics with­ out arguing.


Violence consists of any verbal strategy that attempts to convince, control, or compel others to your point of view. It violates safety

by trying to force meaning into the pool. Methods range from name-calling and monologuing to making threats. The three most common forms are controlling, l

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