Using silence to control you

Conversational power tactic #1

People who use silence as a weapon in conversation want an audience. But they don’t like to be the audience.

So, they’ll discourage you from making your own contributions to the conversation or interrupting their flow.


Each time you attempt to contribute, they respond with… silence. This is usually accompanied by a blank and disinterested look; they’ll continue looking at you, or they may look away, until you dry up for lack of feedback and encouragement.

This is how they sneakily get the conversation back to themselves and their theme.

And, yes, you may have noticed similarities here with the article on Sulking The difference is that the sulker’s use of silence is aggressive whereas here is it sneakily used to discourage you from contributing to the conversation.

(This is the first of an occasional series on the tactics that people use to manipulate the direction of a conversation. Recognise them to protect yourself from the conversational bullies. And to alert yourself to their strategies – because if they use this one it’s likely they will use other power tactics too.)

(First published in the Pegasus NLP Update, February 2020)