Cold Shoulder

I’m sure you understand quite well WHAT the cold shoulder is, and I’m sure you’ve also dealt with it a fair number of times. I can tell you I’ve certainly dealt with it plenty of times, and why the result is often unpleasant, usually there’s an underlying reason as to why it takes place.

The cold shoulder can come from friends, family members, coworkers, and worst of all — significant others. Of course, nobody ever expects the cold shoulder, and if they did, then it wouldn’t be the “cold shoulder” in the first place. That unexpected coldness or reluctance from another individual, usually causing you to question your actions and wonder what it is you did to upset this other person, often leaves us with a bad taste in our mouth.

…and why does it happen?

Why do we suddenly find ourselves victim to the cold shoulder? It usually doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, but it DOES leave us with the question of:

Why Me?

Did I upset this other person? Did I offend them?

It’s easy to come up with a million and one “what if” situations in your mind, especially when your brain is in over-drive trying to find out what triggered all of this. To make matters worse, when somebody is avoiding you or won’t speak to you, it’s hard to narrow down your list as to what you could’ve possibly done. Yet dealing with the cold shoulder is actually much easier than most people think, and it’s generally their own actions, not the actions of the other person, that end up making things worse.

Granted, the other person may be the one acting childish, and maybe they don’t even have a reason to be giving you the cold shoulder. Maybe they just want attention or have some other need they secretly want fulfilled. Maybe the person giving you the cold shoulder doesn’t even know themselves why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Does that change things?

Not at all. The issue, when it comes to dealing with the cold shoulder, is that it’s up to YOU to resolve things. Why? Because you’re the one who feels compelled to contact this person.

If somebody I absolutely didn’t care about gave me the cold shoulder, or even somebody who was pretty low on my list of acquaintances, then I really wouldn’t care if they chose not to speak to me. That’s their issue, not mine, and it’s also the first thing you need to decide when dealing with this particular problem. If the person is a spouse or good friend, then you’re probably going to be a bit more motivated in getting past their defenses versus being a co-worker you could care less about.

That’s exactly why it rests on your shoulders. The other person’s shields are up, and it’s your decision on whether you want to attempt breaching those shields or not. Best case scenario: everything works out and things go back to normal. Worst case scenario: you end up looking like one of these people.

Dealing With The Cold Shoulder

But since dealing with the cold shoulder isn’t all that difficult, nor does it require any special knowledge about the other person, I’m not going to spend too much time going over scenarios. There’s really only one fundamental rule that works when someone is giving you the cold shoulder:

Ignore them

Ignore them? Seriously? While there are an abundance of different reasons someone could give you the cold shoulder, they generally fall into two categories: either the person wants attention, or the person truly doesn’t want to speak with you. If the person is seeking attention, that’s a whole problem in itself, and if the person truly doesn’t want to speak with you, then that’s an option they should be allowed to have. Pushing and prodding is certainly not going to speed up this process, nor is going to help “redeem” yourself. It not only makes you look desperate, but it also fails to produce any results. Constantly asking “why?” to each thing this individual does will usually put you in a deeper hole than you’re already in, and so it’s best avoided under all circumstances.

Ignoring the person also lets them know that if they choose not to speak to you, then that’s their choice. You don’t look needy or dependent upon the other person, and most importantly of all, it shifts the weight back onto the other individual. Suddenly they realize that it’s now their turn to make a move, and that if they choose not to communicate with you, then it’s going to be their issue to deal with. Assuming the person is giving you the cold shoulder because they’re truly upset or angry at you, this usually gives them the needed time to cool off, allowing them to approach you when they feel mentally and emotionally ready. If the person is doing it for attention, then letting them be is usually the easiest and most direct route. There’s no point in getting tangled up in somebody else’s emotional web because they need outside sources of attention. Anytime somebody gives me the cold shoulder for this reason, I ignore them completely; not only freeing up myself, but letting them know that I have no interest whatsoever in any immature mind games they wish to play.

And what if ignoring them doesn’t work? Chances are if you’ve fallen into that category then the person giving the cold shoulder is doing it more so for reasons of attention as opposed to actually having an issue with you. If this person only gets upset or outraged because YOU won’t make an attempt to communicate, even though THEY’RE the one severing communication in the first place, then just step away and let things be. At that point there isn’t a whole lot you can do anyways, and you’ll be glad you’re didn’t get stuck with the burden of a problem that’s not yours.